IN-SPACe could be sectoral regulator once laws are in place: Sivan

The proposed Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) could be turned into the sectoral regulator once necessary legal structure are there, according to K. Sivan, Secretary of the Department of Space (DoS) and Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

On Wednesday the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its nod for opening up the space sector and for setting up of IN-SPACe to promote private sector’s participation.

The IN-SPACe will also ensure a level-playing field for private firms to use Indian space infrastructure. It will hand hold, promote and guide the private industries in space activities through encouraging policies and a friendly regulatory environment.

Speaking to IANS, Sivan said, “We are on the job of getting ready the Space Activities Bill. It will define the space activities, liabilities and other aspects.”

According to Sivan, a new navigation policy is also being proposed. Suitable changes in the remote sensing data policy as well as SATCOM policy are on the anvil to align them to an open and inclusive space sector.

Pointing out the role envisaged for IN-SPACe and the demand for a sectoral regulator, when queried whether the proposed body could be converted into the space sector regulator, Sivan said, “IN-SPACe could be turned into a regulatory body when the necessary laws and regulations are in place.”

Speaking to IANS earlier, Narayan Prasad, Chief Operating Officer, satsearch said, “The best is to establish an independent regulator — Space Regulatory Authority of India (SRAI) — which will create a level-playing field for many of the emerging players.”

Establishing an independent regulator could allow a systematic review and reforms on a continuous basis rather than one-off announcements, Prasad said.

According to Sivan, IN-SPACe will have its own directorates for technical, legal, safety and security, monitoring as well as activities promotion for assessing the private sector’s needs and coordination of the activities.

IN-SPACe would have a board and representatives from industry, academia and the government, Sivan said.

“Initially, IN-SPACe will be manned by people from the existing space setup. Later, people from outside will be taken in. It will have its funds from the budgetary allocations for the DoS. The new body may not need big financial allocations,” Sivan said.

No estimataion on the private investment the sector will attract after the opening-up has been done. “We will have an industry meet with the private sector in two weeks. Then we may get an estimate on investment potential,” he said.

Stressing that the ISRO’s importance will not diminish with the entry of IN-SPACe, Sivan said all the existing centres – manufacturing, services, rocket launch centres – would continue to be with the ISRO.

“The ISRO will be involved in research and development in advanced technologies, human space missions. It will also share its technological expertise with the private parties. The proposed new body will not disturb the existing ones. It will be another autonomous body,” Sivan said.

On the impact of Covid-19 on the ISRO launch missions, Sivan said, “All our missions were affected. The actual impact will have to be studied once the situation improves. The private industries manufacturing items for the ISRO were not functioning due to the lockdown. Our own officials were not able to travel.”