- The Indian PM launched the Indian Space Association (ISpA) on Monday to promote the nation’s status in the global race in the space sector among developed nations.
- The ISpA will serve as an association between the Indian public and private firms involved in space and satellite technology.
- This organization will promote better telecommunications facilities for the public which can be utilized by farmers, students, entrepreneurs, and so on.
On Monday, 11th October 2021 the Prime Minister of India launched the Indian Space Association(ISpA) intending to boost the current space sector in India. The creation of this association will look to transform the nation into a major player in the global space innovation race. It will create an environment for the privatization of space exploration in India and hence allow major players to enter and invest in the field.
The story behind the birth of the Indian Space Association
The world has recently witnessed a boom in private spaceflight missions. A phenomenon known as the Race to Space has been evolving among the richest men on the planet as they undertake commercial flights to outer space. Such commercial missions have gained momentum due to efforts by various sources such as Amazon ex-CEO Jeff Bezos whose company Blue Origin recently arranged a mission for him to travel to space. Also, we have examples in English business magnate and owner of Virgin Group, Richard Branson who also traveled to space with a few crew members. Billionaire Elon Musk whose firm SpaceX, a very major player in the American space sector, recently created history with the Inspiration4 mission. Their mission became the very first of its kind to carry four untrained civilians to space.
With such evident and rapid progress by private players in the space sectors of developed nations, India has yet a long road to travel to establish privatization in space exploration. Such privatization is stated to open doors for space tourism for the common public. However, this path hasn’t been as relatively easy to be traversed by India.
One of the largest players in the Indian space sector is a government initiative known as the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO). ISRO was the face of the Indian space sector until very recently as it helped the country gain international recognition with various projects. One such commendable project is the PSLV launch vehicle which ISRO outsourced to various foreign nations such as Belgium and Indonesia to help them launch satellites. Thus in a short span, ISRO dominated the sector and was regarded as a monopoly promoting organization by the Indian private players.
Moreover, the story of privatization in space in India is not a rather recent tale. It began in the early 2000s with the introduction of the New Space Sector. This initiative was launched with three companies Earth2Orbit, TeamIndus, and Devas Multimedia. This era witnessed a major scam that set back the feat of commercialization and the roots of the Indian space sector in private firms by many years. This was known as the Antrix-Devas scam. Antrix Corporation Limited was launched as ISRO’s commercial arm which was meant to lease an S-band satellite spectrum for telecommunications to Devas multimedia. The deal went through but was scrapped at the last moment by the UPA government on complaints of financial irregularities by the Audit. After this scam, the recovery for private firms in India was painstakingly slow, until now with the birth of the Indian Space Association(ISpA).
What is the ISpA?
The Indian Space Association was born under the Prime Minister’s much-advertised Aatmanirbhar Bharat Scheme. This scheme propagates the idea of Make In India and its goal is to push the nation to be premier in various sectors instead of being limited to agriculture itself.
The ISpA will be the missing piece in the puzzle required to unify the bridge between the public and private sectors in the field of space in India. It will represent a congregation of space and satellite companies. The different public and private companies will work in tandem to expand the space sector in the country and aim to establish the nation as a prime player in the global race.
The PM officially launched the ISpA at 11:00 AM on Monday the information of which was declared in a tweet from the PM office and one by the PM himself. During the launch event, he spoke at length about the need for unification among the government and private efforts to achieve success. He exclaimed that the space reforms will be based on four pillars, the government will act as an enabler, the private sector will be given the freedom to innovate, the youth shall be prepared for the future, and the space sector will act as a resource for progress. He shared how the progress of the space sector can help people in their daily lives. He gave examples of how with rapid advances better imaging, mapping, and connectivity facilities can be provided. Apart from this, farmers can take advantage of forecast technologies in order to better protect their crops from any impending weather adversities. Also in the same tune, entrepreneurs can harness the space sector to quicken the speed of operations from shipment to deliveries.
The ISpA is represented by local and global corporations with interests in space and satellite technologies. Its founding members include Larson & Toubro, Nelco, OneWeb, Bharti Airtel, Mapmyindia, Walchandnagar Industries, and Ananth Technology Limited. Other core members include Godrej and Hughes India among others. Lt Gen Anil Bhatt (Retd) is the director-general of the new body he previously served as the director-general of military operations.