Space Industry Ecosystem in India
INDIA to Emerge as a Player in The Global Space Business
ISRO and Indian companies both are maturing technologically and are now poised to use this capability to bag more and more international business. India has been launching satellites for foreign countries for over 15 years. It has well established itself as a committed player in the commercial satellite market. The country has become a preferred destination for foreign satellite launches, given the significant difference in costs. Many countries are keen to launch their satellites through ISRO owing to its excellent track record and low-cost satellite launch services. India’s Department of Space (DoS) has primary responsibility of promoting the development of space science, satellite technology and applications for development of national space Infrastructure while the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), a government institution under the DoS, has piloted all Indian activities in the space sector since its inception in 1969.ISRO has so far launched 35 foreign satellites all through its rocket polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV).Then there is ISRO latest rocket, the Geostationary launch vehicle (GSLV). Some of the initiatives successfully taken up by ISRO are Launched 87 spacecraft missions (including 2 Nano Satellites) Exhibited 60 launch missions (including Scramjet-TD and RLV-TD) and 2 re-entry missions. Launched 8 student satellites.
Foreign satellites launched by ISRO
India’s space sector budget (INR billion)
As a part of the government’s 12th Five Year Plan 2012-2017, ISRO has submitted a plan for 58 space missions to be undertaken, which includes 33 satellite missions and 25 launch vehicle missions. Between 2012 and 2016, ISRO has been able to launch a total of 52 space missions (meeting 90% of its planned 5-year target), including 26 satellite missions and 26 launch vehicle missions. The government has increased its Space Budget estimate FY2017-18 by more than 20%, to INR 90.94 billion ($1.35 billion). It will provide initial funding for two new ambitious Indian space science missions—one to Mars and another to Venus.
Satellite launch services
Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO, is the nodal agency for providing satellite Launch services for customer satellites, on-board ISRO’s operational launch vehicles namely, PSLV and GSLV.In FY2016, Antrix earned a revenue of approximately INR 2,300 million ($35.17 million) through commercial launch services, which is about 0.6% of the global launch services market. In February 2017, ISRO launched a record of 104 satellites, taking its tally of foreign satellites launched to date to 180. The latest launch comprised three of its own, while the remaining 101 were from six countries: US, Israel, Switzerland, Netherlands, UAE, and Kazakhstan.
Following the launch of 104 satellites, ISRO plans to take two Google Lunar Xprize contenders to the moon on the same PSLV and drive missions to Mars and Venus. Currently, India has satellite order book of around INR 2,800 million ($42.8 million) for third parties, which will take it around 2-3 years to exhaust. The country is also in discussions for contract manufacturing of meteorological satellites with other countries along with Indian industry.
Private sector opportunities in satellite manufacturing (entrepreneurial scope)
India has very few entrepreneurs who have built companies in space engineering domain. When it comes to building a good international business, this number reduces to nearly one if we exclude those who have minor contracts. The lone exception when a Hyderabad based space entrepreneur decided it was time to go international. Subba Rao Pavuluri did was inconceivable he took the first step towards becoming an international satellite operator by signing a $300-million deal about (1,800 crores) with Russian Company Reshetnev Information Satellite System. Pavuluri is a hardened space entrepreneur. He was a former employee of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) the government’s primary Space agency and set up two companies in 1993. The first was to make value-added remote sensing Data, Anant Technologies to develop avionics for ISRO launch vehicles. In 2011 he set up one more firm AOneSat Communication as a joint venture with the Swiss group INDEN. Anant Technologies participated closely in the Moon and Mars missions of ISRO by building satellite components. It is now large company with 1200 employees 400 engineers and sophisticated facilities for Space engineering. The international satellite service market is expanding rapidly and a lot of economical business can be done. ISRO leaders played key role to involve industries right from development, this has led to the development of a flourishing industry consisting of over 400 companies. Some of these companies have built a solid technology foundation and are now getting ambitious and looking to move on to larger project in this area. Some of them Godrej and Boyce, L&T Aerospace, Walchandagar industries have used this foundation and gone on to build larger business in defence and aeronautics. Space engineering skills will continue to provide expertise that is useful in defence and aviation the space business could easily expand if ISRO decides to ramp up in a big way.
Global Space Industry
ISRO has invited private sector companies to participate in satellite manufacturing. So far, private companies have only been supplying satellite components. Further, ISRO has announced to develop a 100-acre hi-tech Space Park in Bengaluru, where the private players will set up facilities to make subsystems and components for satellites. The opening up of the high-profile satellite manufacturing sector is a part of the “Make in India” initiative.
Growing NewSpace phenomenon
NewSpace is a worldwide phenomenon of enterprises expanding capacity and capability to develop space product and service using private funding. It is challenging the traditional ways of space services which have been otherwise considered expensive and time-consuming. Enabling NewSpace in India will impact not only start-ups, but also provides an opportunity for SMEs to leverage cluster-based externalities such as technologies,
infrastructure and manpower to build space-based services.
Conclusion and recommendations
If Indian industry needs to claim a greater traction in the international space market there is a need to promote and develop a model for promotion of start-ups with independent technology ideas, which carry the potential of producing product/service offerings out of India and are scalable globally.
The government should encourage involvement of private players in the industry to develop capacity and capability in pursuing space activities for future technology development. There is also a need to promote and develop a model for promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to capture a larger share in the international space market. The government could consider instituting a national fund for promotion of entrepreneurship in the space industry. India could replicate the built-up of Bangalore as an IT hub for the space industry as well. Dedicated land should be allocated for space ventures and assistance should be provided to them in the start-up stage. Additionally, senior ISRO and Antrix officers can mentor the start-ups in space industry to ensure they operate within the Indian space policy framework and leverage technical expertise to ISRO. India is enhancing focus on NewSpace companies which are building (Business-to-Business) B2B
and Business to consumer B2C models which can scale both nationally and internationally. The B2B, B2C ecosystem in the space industry has the potential of tapping the IT infrastructure and extending it to core software-based applications of space-based information such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS). The government support in NewSpace is required to further catalyse the multiplier effect while steps are being taken to upgrade the existing capacity of the space industry. India can look forward to set up an independent space activities focused think tank constituting distinguished experts in the space field. The think tank will provide key insights on space program management, dual-use of technologies, economic impacts of space expenditures, new space laws, and insights on international cooperative space agreements.
D. (2017, April 17). Global Exhibition on Services “The India opportunity”. Retrieved September 22, 2018, from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/in/Documents/industries/in-india-services-sector-ges-2017-noexp.pdf
India Services Sector A Multi-Trillion Dollar Opportunity for Global Symbiotic Growth
RESEARCH, I. S., ORGANIZATION. (2018, January 18). SPACE BUSINESS. Retrieved September 22, 2018, from https://nrsc.gov.in/sites/all/pdf/Day2_11.pdf NATIONAL REMOTE SENSING CENTRE INDIAN SPACE RESEARCH ORGANIZATION PRESENTATION IN NDC USER MEET
TECHNOLOGY, B. S. (2017, June). STATE OF THE SATELLITE INDUSTRY REPORT. Retrieved September 22, 2018, from https://www.sia.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/SIA-SSIR-2017.pdf Information on the satellite industry “Satellite Industry Association” By Bryce Space and Technology
G. A. (n.d.). THE NEXT FRONTIER. Retrieved September 22, 2018, from http://www.godrejaerospace.com/PrecisionSystems/Pdf/TheNextFrontier.pdf “THE NEXT FRONTIER FOR INDIAN SPACE PLAYERS”
Javneet Singh Wazir
School: Amity Institute of Technology