Only Indian entities can seek IN-SPACe authorisation to disseminate data from satellites. The user of the data does not need the regulator’s authorisation, but the ‘data disseminator’ shall also make sure that the data is not further transferred to a third party in any manner. And rocket companies may be required to take ‘third party liability’ insurance before they launch their vehicles. 

These are among the rules brought out today by India’s space activities regulator, the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Center (IN-SPACe). These rules are to govern private sector activities in ‘space’. 

In April 2023, the government of India unveiled the Indian Space Policy – 2023, effectively paving the way for private sector participation in space activities from and over the Indian territory. Today, the government brought out the ‘Norms, Guidelines and Procedures for Implementation of Indian Space Policy-2023 in respect of Authorisation of Space Activities (NGP). 

The NGP deals with the authorisation process, space-based communications (which require any company, including foreign-owned entities like Elon Musk’s Starlink, to get the Indian regulator’s authorisation before launching satellite communications), operation of remote sensing or amateur satellite systems, access to Indian orbital resources to Indian entities, dissemination of satellite data, operation of ground-based systems, operation of space transport systems (rockets) and liability-related issues.  

For all these activities, IN-SPACe authorisation is required. The NGP also deals with other issues, for example, changes in management of the authorized entity and adherence to international rules and India’s treaties with other countries.  

The long-awaited NGP essentially gives effect to the India Space Policy 2023 and effectively opens up the space sector for private participation. 

India aspires that the annual space economy should be $44 billion by 2033; three-fourths of this should come from within India and the rest from abroad, Pawan Goenka, Chairman, IN-SPACe, had told businessline in March. There are over 200 space start-ups in India. As of March 1, 2024, IN-SPACe had received 466 applications for authorization, Dr Goenka had said.