India is rapidly advancing in space exploration, having achieved the feat of landing on the Moon’s south pole and garnering a reputation of having a cost-competitive space industry.

The global space economy is projected to increase from about $400 billion to $1 trillion by 2040. NASA has paved the way for private players to participate in space exploration. India has also entered the race by privatising space launches and is now considering opening the sector to foreign investment.

The space economy is growing rapidly, with the entry of private players and 100 per cent FDI. The Indian Space Policy 2023 and the Indian Space Activities Bill provide a framework that prioritises private players’ involvement in the space sector. This will help India increase its share in the global space economy from about 2 per cent to 9 per cent by 2030, according to a recent report by Deloitte India.

India’s space sector is currently valued at around $8 billion and has been growing at about 4 per cent a year, which is higher than the global average of 2 per cent. It is expected to reach $40 billion by 2040.

Cost competitiveness

The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) and NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL) have been transferring existing technologies to the private sector since 2020. Their goal is to create an ecosystem of industry, academia and start-ups and attract a larger share of the global space economy.

The Department of Space has helped emerging companies build upon ISRO’s foundational technologies to reduce their development time and costs.

The space industry has the potential to transform various sectors such as telecommunications, governance, agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, navigation, and strategic defence. Through technological advancements and innovation, space applications can bring tangible benefits to every citizen’s life. Empowering the private sector amplifies the socio-economic impact of space applications.

By finding innovative solutions to pressing challenges in areas such as agriculture, disaster management, or communication, the private sector can bring significant improvement to people’s lives.

India’s space industry comprises a significant number of small and medium-sized enterprises that supply components for satellite and launch vehicle manufacturing. Encouraging private participation could free up ISRO to focus on science, research and development, interplanetary exploration, and strategic launches.

The writer is Vice-Chairman of the Punjab Economic Policy and Planning Board. Views are personal