Space race, its economic dimensions and India’s prospects

Space race :Space research in India began in the 60s and ISRO (Indian Space and Reaserch Oganisation) was established in 1969. India has made many records in the field of space research in the last 50 years. In the current time, various countries and private companies are making efforts for commercial use of space. It is estimated that by 2025, the size of the global space industry will increase to $ 550 billion. In this context, India is also considering using the space for commercial benefit. It is to be known that Indian Space Agency ISRO has developed such a capability on the strength of which it can play an important role in space. Keeping the above facts in mind, the newly elected government of India has announced the establishment of an institution called New Space India Limited.


  • The Indian Space Research Institute (ISRO) was established in the year 1969. It is a space agency of the Government of India and is headquartered in Bangalore.
  • It was established with the efforts of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his close aide and scientist Vikram Sarabhai for space research.
  • It is managed by the ‘Space Department’ of the Government of India, which reports directly to the Prime Minister of India.
  • ISRO operates through a nationwide network of its various centers.

ISRO’s importance to India

Space race
Space race

After the establishment, ISRO has made many programs and research successful for India. It has played an important role not only for the welfare of India but also in establishing India as a soft power before the world. In the early period of the space program, India started using it for its needs.

  • For development in the field of telecommunications, broadcasting and broadband infrastructure in the country, ISRO launched programs through satellite communication. The INSAT and GSAT satellites played a major role in this. Currently, more than 200 transponders are being used for communication services in India. Through these satellites, it has been possible to provide services such as telecommunications, telemedicine, television, broadband, radio, disaster management, search and rescue operations in India.
  • The second important role of ISRO in India has been in the field of Earth Observation. In India, land supervision techniques are required for weather forecasting, disaster management, mapping of resources and planning through land supervision. Agriculture and water management with accurate knowledge of the weather and rescue work at the time of disaster were possible through this technique. Forest survey report in India is also prepared by this technique. Indian Remote Sensing-IRS was in use in India in the 1980s, but currently in India, more high-capacity satellites like RISAT, Cartosat, Resourcesat etc. series of satellites were used. Is going. These satellites have made India more capable of defending against natural factors.
  • The third important area is satellite-based navigation. Shipping technology is used to strengthen air services in India and improve its quality. At the same time, air-based security challenges are also not less. Keeping these in mind, India launched the GPS-aided GEO augmented-GAGAN program. Going ahead of this program, India has launched IRNSS (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System) based on 7 satellites. These satellites are placed in Geostationary Geosynchronous orbit. IRNSS helps India in realizing the exact position of goods. It is not only important in shipping but also in the field of defense. It is worth noting that such technology is available with only a few countries. India relied on the American GPS (Global Positioning System) prior to the creation of IRNSS. India has changed the name of IRNSS to Navik (Navigation with Indian Constellation-NavIC) in the year 2016.

satellite launch vehicle
satellite launch vehicle

The above efforts of ISRO have been possible only with the introduction of a capable launch vehicle technology. India started this technology with SLV (Satellite Launch Vehicle) and ASLV (Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle). India later developed the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) technology and this technology has proved to be a milestone for India’s space programs. India has so far managed 46 campaigns by PSLV. India is now working on the Mark III variant of GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle). Mark III of GSLV can place a payload of 3.5 MT in a Geosynchronous Orbit. This is compared to the French launch vehicle Ariane-5, which has the capability of carrying payloads of up to 5 MT. The success of PSLV and GSLV in India has made Chandrayaan-1 and Mars mission successful in the past. Now India is working on Chandrayaan-2 and Gaganyaan program. The Gaganyaan program is to be executed in the year 2022. Through this mission, India is planning to send humans to space. The above programs are possible only through the successful launch vehicle technology of India.

ISRO has partnered with various companies over the years. These companies are particularly related to public sector, such as HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited), MSDL, BEL (Bharat Electronics Limited) etc. Some companies are also associated with private sector like L&T, Godrej, Walchandnagar industry etc. But private sector companies only provide parts and services at secondary and tertiary level. Overall, private sector participation in space technology in India remains negligible.

Prospects of economic use of space

In recent times, many companies of the world have joined the commercial race of space. These companies have encouraged the world to think about the economic use of space. The global space industry currently stands at $ 350 billion. It is expected to increase to $ 550 billion by 2025. Thus, space is developing into an important market. ISRO has made significant achievements in the field of space but India’s space industry is around $ 7 billion, which is only 2 percent of the global market. Broadband and DTH services account for about two-thirds of this size of India’s space industry.

space india limited
space india limited

It is also worth noting that one-third of the transponders used by India are leased from foreign satellites and as the demand for communications sector in India increases, the number of foreign transponders will increase in the same proportion. From the above situation it seems that India is far behind in commercial use of space and there is a need to develop more in this area. Keeping this in mind, the Government of India has reiterated the commercial commitment of NSIL (New Space India Limited) in the recent budget. It is estimated that by the year 2030, 17,000 small satellites will be launched globally. For this, ISRO is working on a plan to build SSLV (Small Satellite Launch Vehicle). PSLV and SSLV together can provide logistics at a lower cost for the future market.

New Space India Limited

  • Recently New Space India Limited-NSIL has been officially inaugurated in Bangalore.
  • Significantly, New Space India Limited is a commercial arm of ISRO.
  • New Space India Limited was launched on 6 March 2019 with an authorized share capital of Rs 100 crore (paid-up capital of Rs 10 crore) for commercial use of research and development activities undertaken by ISRO in the space sector.
  • It is the second business arm of ISRO after ‘Antrix Corporation’. Antrix Corporation was primarily established in the year 1992 to facilitate commercial launch of ISRO’s foreign satellites.

an objective

  • NSIL aims to increase industry participation in Indian space programs.
  • NSIL will bring together all space-related activities and develop private entrepreneurship in related technologies.
  • Manufacture and production of SSLV and PSLV through technology transfer mechanisms.
  • It will also meet the demands of the emerging global commercial SSLV market, including satellite manufacturing and providing satellite-based services.

Concept and utility of new space

New Space is a Hindi adaptation of New Space. The term New Space has been in much discussion over the years. In the initial period, the meaning of New Space has been taken in the context of deep space. But at present, the concept of new space is being used by private sector companies to join the space sector. Some scholars have differing views, believing that New Space refers to the use of space technology in areas where it has not yet been possible but has strong potential for use. India has also formed NSIL keeping in mind the commercial use of space in association with the private sector.

Private sector participation

The role of the private sector for space in India has been limited. Private sector services have been used only for less important works. ISRO still performs important tasks such as assembly and integration and testing-AIT. It is worth noting that NASA, the world’s largest space sector institution, has also been taking help from the private sector. Currently, there are more than 20 start-ups related to new space in India. The approach of these enterprises is different from the traditional vendor / supplier model. These start-ups are exploring the possibilities of business by connecting directly to the business or directly engaging with the consumer. The way various independent app makers were allowed to enter the Android and Apple platforms directly gave rise to a revolution in smart phone usage. Similarly, by giving space to the private sector in the field of space, the possibilities of this field can be increased and it will also be beneficial from the perspective of India.

new space india limited
new space india limited

India already has programs like Digital India, Startup India, Skill India and missions like Smart City. These programs can support new space startups in India. Such startups can create various technologies and services and ISRO can attract global consumer segments (country and private institutions). Thus ISRO and startups and various private companies can make economic profit by participating.

But there has been a shortage of government policies encouraging private sector in India. A bill was introduced in the Parliament in the year 2017, which lacked provisions encouraging the private sector. However, this bill has been repealed. Taking lessons from the country’s SatCom policy, the government should formulate a policy for this sector and the private sector is also hoping to encourage the government through lawmaking. If India is to implement the concept of new space and get its benefits, then the government will have to give policy incentives to the private sector.

The conclusion
India’s past has been a success in the field of space. But currently space is giving birth to new possibilities. India will also have to make significant efforts to be a part of these possibilities. For this, the budget of ISRO has also been increased in the last few years. But ISRO’s capacity remains low in proportion to demand. To increase this capacity, the private sector also has to be made a partner. For this, there is a need to encourage through legislation and policies. India is already working on the plan to set up the Defense Space Agency and the Space Defense and Research Organization, realizing the utility and importance of space. Therefore, ISRO should strengthen its civilian identity as well as plan to link itself with the commercial sector. The government should also encourage the development of the space sector through legislation and policy. Efforts should be made to increase India’s participation in the world’s space economy by 10 percent by the next decade. For this, ISRO will have to make efforts by bringing private sector and new space enterprises on a platform with them.

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