- India is planning to put in place a technological & regulatory framework.
- The Department of Space (DoS) has released the draft National Space Transportation Policy.
- Private players eager to leverage national facilities and the new policy aims to unlock the potential in space sector.
In this article we will discuss and analyse all aspects of this issue.
National Space Transportation Policy
- The Department of Space (DoS) has placed the ‘Draft National Space Transportation Policy 2020 – Norms, Guidelines & Procedures (NGP)’ for implementation in public domain for comments & suggestions.
- It covers all aspects of rocket launching, launchpads, reentry of a space object and others.
- Indian National Space Promotion & Authorization Center (IN-SPACe), an independent body under the DoS has been specified as the nodal agency for all approvals related to launches by the private sector.
A boost for private players
- The policy aims to unlock the potential of the space sector in the country with respect to space transportation systems.
- It will create a healthy ecosystem for private companies to develop launch vehicles and launch them from Indian Territory.
(1) Launching of rockets
- The draft policy allows Indian private companies to establish and operate rocket launch sites within and outside the country, after getting prior authorization from the government.
- Rocket launch (orbital or sub-orbital) from Indian or overseas territory can be carried out only with authorization from IN-SPACe.
- The launch could be from own or leased launch site and also from mobile platforms (land, sea or air).
(2) Financial guarantee
- As per the policy, IN-SPACe authorization requires financial guarantee or insurance cover by proposer under its ownership to fulfil nation’s liability as per international agreements.
(3) Launches outside India
- If the launch site is overseas, all necessary approvals for undertaking the activities in another country must be under the applicable laws of that country.
- IN-SPACe will authorize the launch activity by the Indian Entity after verifying clearances accorded by Ministry of External Affairs or any other Ministry.
- IN-SPACe or India shall not have any liability related to launches performed outside of the territory of India.
(4) Green technologies
- The draft policy states that ISRO should focus on Research and Development (R&D), green fuels, robotic space exploration and reusable rockets.
- It states that focused research on new propulsion systems based on semi-cryogenic, liquid oxygen-methane and green propellants is essential.
- ISRO is developing green propulsion through hydrogen peroxide for the rocket that will power the ‘Gaganyaan’ mission (India’s 1st Human Space Flight Programme).
- ISRO is developing a green fuel – LOX (Liquid Oxygen)/Methane – LOX as oxidiser and methane as fuel.
Why need such a policy?
- Indian entities can eye the big opportunity to capture a share of the global launch services market.
- It facilitates R&D to build space transportation capabilities for future space endeavours along with commercial exploitation.
- The establishment of space enterprises has the potential to boost the economy by creating direct & indirect employment.
- It enables the commercial utilization of the launch capacity and space transportation technologies developed by the DoS through its commercial arms.
- Private sector ecosystem in Space Transportation is growing globally.
- It paves the way for engaging in mutually beneficial partnerships with international space agencies/technology providers towards the joint development of advanced space transportation capabilities.
Salient features of the policy
- The policy is a comprehensive document with guidelines right from the start of the mission and till the coming back of the rocket.
- The draft policy also talks about robotics which is needed for space stations.
- The policy is really a futuristic document since it talks of private launch pads.
- Space is an important sector where we require capital investments from outside. This is where the policy is silent.
- Indian big players have no keen interest in space-based industries. This would make the private arm totally based on startups.
- The policy is also silent on the military, space weapons, suborbital tourism etc.
- The policy also talks about launching activities from Seas. This can create security issues that need to be taken care of.
- It can create challenges in implementation since it has created a single-window approval agency like IN-SPACe. This could hamper the Ease of Doing Business.
- Also, the policy is not clear about startups and research.
- It is essential for the DOS to work towards advanced space transportation capabilities including new propulsion systems, reusability as well as heavy lift capabilities to undertake robotic/human space exploration.
- In order to enable missions like human spaceflight and robotic space exploration, the current capabilities of DOS/ISRO have to be significantly enhanced towards heavy lift and reusable space transportation systems.
- ISRO till now proved it’s worth and has brought a lot of laurels to India. Now the time has come that Indian industry also lives up to the standards set up by ISRO.