Prime Minister Narendra Modi established the Indian Space Association (ISpA) recently. The ISpA is an industrial association comprised of diverse players in India’s space domain. Government entities such as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and private telecom businesses like as Bharti Airtel’s One Web, Tata Group’s Nelcom, L&T, and MapMyIndia are among the organization’s members.
Significance of ISpA for India
Since the race to reach space and subsequently land on the Moon began between the United States and the erstwhile Soviet Union, governments around the world have invested millions of dollars in pushing the boundaries of space exploration. With the passage of time, countries and government agencies partnered to investigate newer planets and galaxies in search of alien life.
Private sector businesses such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin have recently gained the lead in spaceflight, vowing to begin tourist journeys to space in the near future.
While India has made considerable advancements in space exploration over the years, the state-run ISRO has been at the forefront of this achievement. Several private sector companies, on the other hand, have expressed interest in India’s space domain, particularly in the area of space-based communication networks.
Aim and Objectives of ISpA
One of the organization’s primary objectives is to assist the government in its efforts to establish India as a global leader in commercial space-based expeditions. Recently, ISRO’s rockets have carried payloads and communication satellites for a variety of countries; now, private firms will want to enter this market with the new organisation.
ISpA stated that it will engage stakeholders from throughout the ecosystem to develop an enabling policy framework that would support the government’s ambition of commercial space exploration leadership.
ISpA will also aim to strengthen the Indian space industry’s worldwide connections, bringing essential technologies and investments into the nation and generating additional high-skill jobs.
Stakeholders and Their Contributions
ISpA will be represented by top domestic and international enterprises with superior space and satellite technologies capabilities. Members of the founding group include telecom service provider Bharti Airtel, engineering firm Larson & Toubro, and other Tata Group companies such as Nelco, OneWeb, Mapmyindia, Walchandnagar Industries, and Alpha Design Technologies.
Godrej, Hughes India, Ananth Technology Limited, Azista-BST Aerospace Private Limited, BEL, Centum Electronics, and Maxar India are the remaining core members.
In India, the space-based communications network has exploded in popularity, with several domestic and international corporations betting on it as the next frontier for providing high-speed, affordable Internet connectivity to previously inaccessible locations. This includes StarLink from SpaceX, OneWeb from Sunil Bharti Mittal, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, and Hughes Communications of the United States.
For example, OneWeb is currently constructing its initial constellation of 648 low-earth orbit satellites and has already launched 322 satellites. It is expected to begin operations this year in the Arctic region, which includes Alaska, Canada, and the United Kingdom. By late 2022, OneWeb’s high-speed, low-latency connectivity services will be available throughout India and the rest of the world.
Additionally, StarLink and Amazon are in discussions with the Indian government about obtaining a licence to provide Internet services via satellite. SpaceX intends to build a network of 12,000 satellites, over 1,300 of which are already in orbit.
The growth of the Internet in India is critical to the Modi government’s vision of a digital India in which the vast majority of government services are supplied directly to the customer. Although the government intends to connect all villages and gramme panchayats to high-speed Internet via BharatNet over the next 1000 days, internet access in hilly areas and remote areas of Northeast India remains a difficulty.
To address this, industry analysts believe satellite Internet will be critical for broadband inclusion in remote places and sparsely inhabited areas that terrestrial networks have yet to reach. Currently, however, satellite communications are limited to business and institutional users who rely on them for emergency communications, crucial transcontinental connections, and connecting to isolated places without connectivity.
India has only 3 lakh satellite communications users as of August, compared to 45 lakh in the United States and 21 lakh in the European Union.