India’s Space Programme: A Role for the Private Sector, Finally?

India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced last week that India’s private sector will play a key role in augmenting India’s space programme, and that the government intends to share the facilities of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with the private sector. This announcement was part of the Narendra Modi government’s call for new and bold reforms in an effort to promote its ‘self-reliant India’ mission. It is the fourth segment of the Rs 20 lakh crore Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan special economic stimulus.

Sitharaman’s announcement entails a role for the private sector, possibly with the goal of greater investments in technology development and acquisition, capacity-building and space exploration, including planetary exploration. The minister, while announcing these reforms, appeared to understand that the private sector can help augment India’s space capability. While praising the work done by ISRO, she also pointed out that the private sector is also doing a lot of work in developing space technology. She also acknowledged that the existing regulations prevent private entities from using or even testing their products.

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