Start-ups demand regulatory clarity, insurance to make India leading space player
New Delhi: Industries involved in the space sector on Tuesday demanded a strong regulatory support, access to funding, and innovative insurance solutions to help India become a leading player as well as manufacturing hub for space technologies.
“For building the ecosystem, it is important to enable the industry with foreseeable demands, funding mechanisms, and technology. While many countries have the first two, India is better off even in the third because of ISRO having a host of technologies and pedigree as a space faring nation and solutions to problems faced by industries in space. Solution can be found within in country,” said Rakesh Sasibhushan, chairman and managing director of Antrix Corporation, one of the commercial arms of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro). He is also the chair of the National Space Committee of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) that co-organised the three-day international space conference.
This comes a day after the newly appointed chairperson of Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (INSPACe), Dr Pawan Goenka, said that after liberalisation of the space sector, India should work towards increasing its global market share from less than 2% to something like 10%. He said the body will also make it a priority to create the regulatory framework.
Sasibhushan added, “The global space economy is 4.7 billion dollars, but our share currently is very small. We need not worry about it tough. Now that the sector has been deregulated, a strong domestic economy will emerge.”
Dr Subba Rao Pavuluri, CMD of Ananth Technologies that has been working with Isro for making satellite components and subsystems, said, “There is still confusion in my mind, the industry will be recognised as co-passengers to the government of India but there should be a framework on what that means. And, the regulator has to ensure a true level playing field. The space law is of utmost importance, hopefully it will be finalised soon. The department of space is also working on allocating slots for satellites.”
He said the capital markets in India were also not ready. “My bank never funded me unless I mortgaged my property. But if we look at building whole satellites and whole launch vehicles that needs a huge monetary support. Insurance support for space activity is also needed. India can become a manufacturing hub for satellites, launch vehicles, and subsystems because we already have the expertise.”
Naga Bharat Daka, co-founder of Skyroot aeronautics, a launch vehicle start-up that will become the first Indian company to test its launch vehicles in Isro facilities, said that funding for start-ups became easier once there was some regulatory direction from the government.
With the coming of multiple launch service providers, he said, the latent demand may come up.
“There is a lot of demand driven by research and development such as the pharma sector trying to conduct experiments in space. Launch industry was traditionally supply restricted, the waiting time was huge. The hope is to make it no more supply restricted within a decade. Once that happens, it unleashes a lot of latent demand. Cost effectiveness and availability makes it easy for people to do it,” Daka said, adding that there should be encouraging regulation initially mandating that government payloads also use private players.
Srinath Ravichandran, co-founder and CEO of AgniKul, another launch vehicle start-up, said the demand for launches is already changing. “It used to be communication and remote sensing; now companies ask instead of doing space qualification in a facility whether they can do it in a natural sub-orbital flight. Launch for innovative solutions through small satellites like data storage. With the coming of Inspace, it is the responsibility of the startups now to develop.”