India’s space sector has the potential to gain double digit share of the $440 billion global space economy that itself is expected to scale the $1 trillion level by 2040. The opening up of the sector to private participation has set in motion a new wave of entrepreneurship in areas like building and launching launch vehicles and satellites, developing satellite-based services and ground-level systems, undertaking R&D, and supporting mission services. The 3-day International Conference & Exhibition on Space 2021 on ‘Building Newspace in India’, hosted on the CII Hive virtual platform during September 13-15, 2021, directed laser focus on the growth catalysts for the Indian newspace economy.
In this emerging scenario, the Indian National Space and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) under the leadership of Dr Pawan Goenka, Chairman Designate, IN-SPACEe and NC Member, CII is expected to play a pioneering role in furthering the joint efforts of ISRO and Indian industry and start-ups to leverage the emerging commercial opportunities in the space sector.
While the opening up of the sector has paved the way for several startups to enter the newspace economy, the experts addressing the conference called for a gamut of calibrated measures, such as:
Promote downstream activities: Startups may be encouraged to tap into the greater commercial opportunities extant in the downstream activities of space technology and applications.
Build collaborations to leverage potential of geospatial applications: The space economy is powered by geospatial applications in diverse areas like energy security and sustainable development, food and water security, forestry, urban development, insurance, understanding of oceans and atmospherics and flood warning, among others. The range of geospatial applications depends upon high resolution data obtained from across the globe, necessitating collaborative approach (since geospatial data cannot be generated from one location) and promoting private sector participation in this area.
Attract private investments in space R&D: Government has launched a number of initiatives like Science & Technology clusters to attract local talent and the Finance Ministry has promised a Rs 50 crore fund to support R&D activities in the space sector.
Space manufacturing hub: India could become a global hub for space manufacturing. There is scope for collaborative research in areas like 3D printing, friction stir welding, flow forming, composite manufacturing, etc.
Step up tech development: India’s newspace sector needs more power-efficient systems and a lot of computing potential is to be added to ground stations.
Support space life-sciences: Space life-sciences promises to deliver breakthroughs in the ability to live and work safely in space, treat medical conditions on earth, transform agricultural practices, and carefully consider the ethical dimensions of space explorations and settlements.
Level playing field & support systems: Private players are poised to become 'co-travellers’ in the space journey with ISRO, but it is imperative for facilitate adequate financing of startups in the newspace economy, and provide a level-playing field for all the stakeholders. The need for space laws and space insurance are among the other prerequisites to promote private participation in this sector.
Boost domestic demand, create a robust ecosystem: It is imperative to create a sustainable domestic demand for space technologies, applications and services so that startups are not dependent on overseas markets for their growth. Also, a robust domestic space ecosystem will have to be developed, that is linked with the global space ecosystem.
Spinoffs from human space mission: The mission will have spinoffs like regeneration and recycling of resources, space waste management, development of inter-connected large structures in space, space farming, manufacturing in space, bioastronautics, etc.
Testing sub-systems: Companies importing sub-systems would need access to larger sub-systems where those imported sub-systems can be tested and approved.
Space tourism: India could take the lead in developing human-centric training mechanisms through multiple centres.
The International Conference & Exhibition on Space 2021 was being organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with Antrix Corporation, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).
16 September 2021