Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said that In-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre), the new national nodal agency, which was approved by the Cabinet in the middle of the week, would take 6 months to start functioning and had seen interest from startups, while larger players were yet to come out with their proposals.
“Isro’s projects including Chandrayaan 3 are in progress, but have been delayed due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic,” said K Sivan, chairman of Isro.
Speaking to reporters, Sivan said, “We have not received proposals from big players, but have seen interest from the start ups for projects ranging from satellite making to service providing. We hope that the big players will also come forward so that we can expand our presence in the global space market.”
Private firms are allowed activities in launch vehicles, satellites, space faring services and in ground operations for system readiness. The startups have shown interest in all the four areas. The private players may have to develop launch pads if they are going for satellite launches, though Isro will support them in their activities. They can also join in developing specific technologies for human spaceflight programmes and other missions.
IN-SPACe will be headed by a technology expert as the body may have to deal with various technology related aspects in the space sector. Earlier, the Department of Space said that IN-SPACe would act as a national nodal agency to hand-hold and promote private endeavours in the space sector and for this, ISRO would share its technical expertise as well as facilities. IN-SPACe will have its own independent directorates for technical, legal, safety & security, monitoring as well as activities promotion for assessing the private industry requirements and further coordinating the activities. When asked about its structure, Sivan said IN-SPACe would have a board and representatives from industry, academia and the government.
Commenting on the delay in projects due to Covid-19, he said that while work was in progress for future projects, including Chandrayaan 3, it was not clear how much it would be delayed due to the pandemic situation.
He said that work for second spaceport in Kulasekarapattinam, in Thoothukudi, in the southern Tamil Nadu, was in progress and would help in polar launches towards the south. The existing launchpad in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh is favourable for launches towards the north. In the current scenario, more fuel is needed to launch vehicles in the southern direction, which cuold be addressed with the new launchpad.
The land acquisition process for the second launchpad is in progress.