Indian Space Association: India has this week got the Indian Space Association or ISpA, a premier industry association of space and satellite companies. In line with the recent measures taken to expand the role of private players in the space sector, the Indian Space Association aims to serve as a body that brings public and private entities together so that they can work in tandem for the expansion of the Indian space programme. A statement shared by ISRO quoted PM Narendra Modi as saying that the Indian space sector has largely been dominated by the Indian Government and the public institutions. He said that while scientists have caused the sector to grow leaps and bounds, it is now needed that the Indian talent is not restricted by division of public and private sector entities. He added that the Indian Space Association would help in facilitating the collaboration between private and public players and would lead to India’s space mission growing in an organised way.
During the launch, PM Modi said that the country’s approach to space reforms was based on four pillars – the government acting as an enabler, the private sector being given the freedom to innovate, preparation of the youth for the future, and the space sector acting as a resource for progress. He also shared how the progress of the space sector can help people in their daily lives, saying that it is through the space sector that better imaging, mapping and connectivity facilities can be provided. Apart from this, farmers can take advantage of forecast technologies in order to better protect the ecology from any impending adversities, while entrepreneurs can harness the space sector to quicken the speed of operations from shipment to deliveries.
PM Modi also asserted that 21st century India would ensure that space plays a key role in facilitating world unity.
Financial Express Online has learnt that in order to join the Indian Space Association, there is a yearly subscription fee that needs to be paid.
To understand more about the initiative from the perspective of private players, Financial Express Online spoke to Space Kidz India CEO and Founder Dr Srimathy Kesan. She said, “We need some coordination. In India, so many things are available but we, private players, do not know what is available. This even happened in our case, where we needed testing facilities but we were not sure whom to approach, because sometimes, players having these facilities have phone numbers on their websites but they are mostly unreachable. With an association of organisations, a lot of time can be saved because we can know whom to directly approach. This can help in saving a lot of time, because in the space sector there is not a lot of time to waste.”
She added that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the private sector has not been able to receive a lot of information about the frequency of launches, and therefore, “a liaison between ISRO and the private sector can help in this area as well”.
“The ISpA will also play a pivotal role in coordinating with the defence sector and other nodal space organisations, and this would particularly be helpful for startups. When you enter this field, you do not know much, and so this can help. A collaborative effort can be taken for a successful launch. There are major companies who have technical know-how and testing facilities, but directly approaching them is not always fruitful for small organisations. Hence, if we approach them via ISpA, it can be much easier,” Dr Kesan added.
There are, however, a few aspects that Dr Kesan does want to bring to limelight. “Though the core committee has not yet been formed of the association, the meeting that was held between the private players and the government during the launch makes it look like it would be an all-male team. Since the theme of 2021 is women in space, I hope that there are indeed at least two to three women who are a part of the core committee and can represent all of us women who are trying to grow and make place for ourselves in this male-dominated field. Moreover, not only is gender diversity needed, but I feel that the association should also look at having representatives from academics and startups along with industry professionals in key roles, so that there is a diversity in that sense as well,” she said.
“There is also a need to work on children and provide them with hands-on experience so that they can get exposure early on to this sector. This is something I already suggested to PM Modi last year and he received it with enthusiasm and positivity. I am hoping that something is done by the government in this aspect as well, because for the space sector to grow, it is important to provide students with exposure to this aspect as well, because that would be the real ground-level change. This is something that NASA and ESA are already doing and I think we need to do it too. Most children are excited to learn about space, but they do not have the opportunity to learn about it in-depth other than via Google,” she shared.