Many start-ups have come forward in space sector but no big corporates yet, ISRO chairman says

Privatisation will increase India’s share in the global space market and will not diminish ISRO’s role, K. Sivan said

June 27, 2020 03:51 pm | Updated 04:03 pm IST - CHENNAI

A file photograph of ISRO Chairman K Sivan

A file photograph of ISRO Chairman K Sivan

While many start-ups have already shown interest to participate in the space sector that has now been opened up for private players, big corporates are yet to come forward, said the K. Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Secretary of the Department of Space.

Interacting with media personnel from Chennai through video-conferencing on Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), the body created to enable the participation of private players, he said that a majority of start-ups have shown interest in space applications.

Highlighting that the roughly $350 billion global space market is comprised of around 2% in launch vehicles, 5% satellites, 45% in space applications and 48% in ground equipment, he said, “There is a lot of revenue in space applications and ground equipment. Launch vehicles and satellites have less revenue and are technically complex.” However, since launch vehicles and satellites were needed to better participate in the other two sectors, he said he expected the private sector’s participation in all these sectors.

Pointing out that the private sector was already contributing in a significant manner through the supply chain to ISRO, Mr. Sivan said that even for the ongoing Gaganyaan mission , ISRO has invited participation from private players for the new technologies that will have to be developed.

He stressed that the opening up of space to the private sector was necessary to improve India’s share in the $350 billion global space market, which is presently stuck at around 3%.

Though private players will be allowed to participate in all activities at ISRO including building their own launchpads, launch vehicles, satellites and providing commercial services, he said that this will not diminish the role of ISRO in the Indian space sector. He said that ISRO will be able to focus more on advanced technology development, indigenisation of technologies, and capacity building.

Arguing that private players had a lot of scope, he, however, said that he did not foresee them offering services to the government like ISRO in the near future. He said it was his belief that India had adequate human resources, skilled professionals in particular, for private players to emerge in the space sector.

On the impact of COVID-19 and the consequent lockdown on ISRO’s activities, he acknowledged that work was affected and said it will have an impact on Gaganyaan mission’s schedule. “We will have to wait for the present situation to improve for a better picture to emerge,” he said.

Regarding the proposed launch facility for SSLVs in Kulasekarapattinam in Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu, he said that the land acquisition by Tamil Nadu government was in progress. “Once the land is handed over to the Department of Space, work will progress,” he said.

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