Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the Indian Space Association (ISpA), an association of space and satellite companies, on 11 October 2021. ISpA contributes to the vision of making India Atma Nirbhar and be a global leader in the space sector. It contains stakeholders from both the private and public sectors. The founding members of ISpA include Nelco (Tata group), Larsen & Toubro, Mapmyindia, Bharti Airtel, Walchandnagar Industries, OneWeb, and Ananth Technology Limited. The core members of the Indian Space Association include BEL, Centum Electronics, Hughes India, Godrej, Azista-BST Aerospace Private Limited, and Maxar India. The Director-General of ISpA is the retired Lieutenant General AK Bhatt.
Indian Space Sector
The Indian space sector is one of the most developed space industries globally and has achieved much success through ISRO- the country’s space agency. The services of ISRO range from simple mapping services to the design and development of launch vehicles, satellites, and related technologies for earth observation. Other services of the space agency include telecommunication and broadband, navigation, meteorology, and R&D in space sciences. The most recent space mission is the planetary exploration with MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission). After the Drafts Space Activities Bill 2017, participation of private agencies under the guidance and authorization of the government and the department of space are encouraged in space activities. The participation of private agencies will enhance the space sector with technological innovations. Encouraging start-ups in rural areas will encourage youth by creating career opportunities in the space sector.
Indian Space Association (ISpA)
The ISpA is described as an industry association of public and private space and satellite companies that aims to become the collective voice of the space industry in India. It will undertake policy advocacy and involve all participants in the Indian space sector and the government and its agencies. The main aim of ISpA is to increase private sector participation in the aerospace industry.
The ISpA will be represented by domestic and global companies with advanced experience in space and satellite technologies. It has started with several Indian and international companies that consider ISpA the next frontier to provide high-speed and affordable Internet connectivity, including remote areas. The global companies that are a part of ISpA include SpaceX’s StarLink, Sunil Bharti Mittal’s OneWeb, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, and the US satellite maker Hughes Communications.
Different governments across the world spend millions of dollars on space explorations and satellite developments. One of the significant advantages of the Indian space sector is the low budget required for its space missions. Collaborated research between governments and government agencies of different countries will ensure a better chance to explore new planets and galaxies in search of life forms that exist outside Earth.
One of the association’s main goals is to broaden the government’s effort to make India a global leader in commercial space expeditions. The ISpA will engage with stakeholders worldwide to develop a policy framework that fulfills the government vision. The ISpA will also be working to build global connections for the Indian space sector to bring in necessary and advanced technology and investments into the country, which will create more career opportunities.
One of the primary visions of the present central government is the expansion of the Internet in India, which is crucial for the aim of a digital India. The government plans to connect all the villages and gram panchayats in the country with high-speed Internet over the next 1000 days using BharatNet. However, providing internet connectivity in hilly areas and remote places of Northeast India is a challenge. Satellite internet will be essential for broadband internet connectivity in remote and sparsely populated areas where proper network connections have not been reached yet. Satellite communications are still limited to corporations and organizations that use them for emergency use and critical trans-continental communications.
Satellite connections will ensure internet connectivity for remote areas where other forms of providing internet connections are complicated.
Private sector companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin have taken a significant role in the aerospace sector of different countries. Even though India has made significant advancements in space exploration over the years, ISRO, the National space agency, has been at the center and front of this progress. Since ISpA enables the participation of private companies, the workload on ISRO will reduce, and it will open new opportunities for technological advancement through start-ups and new companies in the space sector in India.