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Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chairman K. Sivan on Thursday said the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), which was cleared by the Union cabinet on Wednesday, will perform the role of a regulator for the space exploration industry, and have members of private enterprises on its board.

Sivan said the Centre will act as a nodal agency to hand-hold and promote private sector participation in space programmes. “They (private sector) can directly apply to IN-SPACe, which will evaluate and process.” He added that decisions taken by IN-SPACe will also be binding on Isro.

“It will take about three to six months for this mechanism to become operational, but the industry need not wait that long. They can approach DoS (department of science) right away, and be assured that their proposals will be processed in a fast-track manner.”

Isro said IN-SPACe will have its own independent directorates for technical, legal, safety and security monitoring, and carry out promotional activities. Besides, it will assess the private sector’s requirements and coordinate activities.

The private industry will be offered opportunities to undertake research and development (R&D), and to identify co-travellers for advanced inter-planetary missions, it added.

The government’s move will help open up India’s space assets, including data, to private players and help create a level-playing field for the space sector. Sivan said opening up the sector was also part of the larger vision to transform India into a self-reliant nation, through socio-economic reforms. “Reforms in the space sector are aimed at tapping the potential of (the) entire country for unlocking its potential by enabling private enterprises and startups to undertake end-to-end space activities,” he said.

The reforms are also aimed at mitigating the high investments required to set up facilities. “An open and inclusive space sector will result in accelerated growth, job creation, as well as innovations, and will enable the Indian space industry to become a significant player in (the) global space economy,” Isro said in a statement.

Sivan said the role of New Space India Ltd (NSIL), under the DoS, is being defined to transform the supply-driven model to demand-driven model for space-based services.

NSIL will be empowered to offload operational activities of Isro in the areas of launch vehicle and satellite production, launch services, as well as space-based services, to allow the space agency to allocate more time and resources for research and development, Sivan added.

“A new navigation policy is also being proposed. Suitable changes in the remote sensing data policy, as well as the SATCOM policy, are also on the anvil. These changes are aimed at aligning the policies to an open and inclusive space sector.”

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