Introduction and History
"A Space Act would help the government deal with legal issues arising from
objects put up in space and for what happens to them in orbit, or because for
In India, space has traditionally been the exclusive province of the government.
It has only been opened up to the private sector, as it will assist in getting
objects into orbit and possibly beyond, allowing the private sector to provide
commercial services. While the government will oversee and supervise what goes
into space, it will make certain that the industry is not too regulated, as this
will discourage investment or cause it to crash in jurisdictions with less
severe regulatory standards.
It was past time for India to gain a foothold in the international space
community. With the launch of Sputnik in 1957 by the then-Soviet Union, all
nations began to explore deeper. In the post-independence period, India has
focused on developing, launching, and operating satellites using indigenous
technologies. In 1962, it established the Indian National Committee for Space
Research, which is now known as the Indian Space Research Organization
(hereinafter referred to as ISRO).
By 2007, it had paid off, as India had launched Chandrayan-I, the world's first
unmanned spacecraft, to the moon. The Memorandum of Understanding between India
and the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), the European Space Agency
(ESA), Bulgaria, and several other accords demand for India to establish and
reform its national space strategy. As a result, in the last half-century, ISRO
has launched over 300 satellites for 33 different countries, which is a great
Background of ISRO
The Indian Space Program is organized in a hierarchical framework, with the
Office of the Prime Minister overseeing all operations and exercising control
over the program through the Space Commission and the Department of Space. The
Department of Space is in charge of enforcing this policy. ISRO is primarily
responsible for space research and development. The Indian Space Program's major
goal is to apply space technology to national development while also performing
space science research and planetary exploration.
In 1958, India joined the General Assembly's ad hoc body, the Committee on the
Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), and its multiple subcommittees (one
scientific and one technical), the only worldwide forum for space development,
International Outer Space Law.
This committee was essential in India's signing
of five international space accords, including:
- The Outer Space Treaty, signed in 1967 that governs state activities in
space research and utilization, including the moon and other celestial
- The Rescue Agreement, signed in 1968 that deals with the rescue of
astronauts, their safe return, and the recovery of space objects.
- The 1972 Liability Convention, which addresses international liability
for damage caused by space objects.
- The Registration Convention, 1975 which is a convention on registration
of objects in outer space.
- The Moon Treaty, signed in 1979, governs state activity on the moon and
other celestial worlds.
ISRO runs a number of programs aimed at fostering space technology in India,
including the Launch Vehicle Program, program for broadcasting and
telecommunications, and the Remote Sensing Program for using satellite pictures
for development. ISRO also provides services (as per DOS rules) such as space
infrastructure for India's telecommunications needs, satellite services for
weather transmission, forecasting, and meteorology, satellite images, and many
other services in order to improve space science.
Regulation in practice
India is ranked fifth in the world in terms of space technology, which is a
fantastic achievement that should not be overlooked in any manner. The Indian
government will create the growing regulatory framework for space operations
based on its policies and procedures. The Remote Sensing Data Policy, which went
into effect in 2011 and replaced the 2001 policy's ineffective provisions, such
as the Resolution Image Clearance Committee (NRSC), a policy framework for
satellite communications in India (the SATCOM Policy), and the ISRO SATCOM
Standards and Technology Transfer Policy, are just a few of them.
Characteristics of the national framework
With national space laws in the works, India's private space sector is projected
to become increasingly active in the coming years. The space sector has been
dominated by the government since the early 1960s, with private business mostly
serving as a provider through contractual partnerships with the DOS via ISRO.
This is rapidly changing with the participation of the commercial private
One of the issues that commercial parties in the Indian space sector confront is
that agreements with the DOS and ISRO do not follow a standard framework, making
it difficult to predict the outcome of discussions with the appropriate
government body. One of the key reasons why the Indian space industry has
pressed on the establishment of national space laws is the regulatory ambiguity.
The growing importance of space operations in general, as well as the growing
involvement of the private sector in such activities, has made national
legislation on space activities undertaken by government agencies and private
commercial actors vital for a space nation like India.
The Draft Outer Space Activities Act 2017, pledges the Indian government to
provide a framework that supports all aspects of space-related activities. The
bill identifies two fundamental reasons for space exploration: the first is for
peaceful objectives, and the second is for national security reasons. Another
characteristic of the law is that it compels the government to establish broader
policies while not holding them directly responsible for space infrastructure
ISRO works with roughly 500 private enterprises on a limited basis, and Indian
industry has been involved in space activities for nearly five
decades. However, in recent years the Indian government has actively
encouraged the private sector to participate in Indian space programs. ISRO has
done a significant amount of applied work in the space sector, which has
prevented it from focusing on space exploration. Therefore, by allowing the
commercial space sector to participate in Indian space programs, ISRO intends to
focus solely on research and development activities, including the development
of a manned space program.
The government has announced the formation of two new organizations in the last
two years to enable private sector participation in India's space industry. New
Space India Limited (NSIL), a public sector corporation incorporated as a
commercial branch of ISRO under the administrative administration of the
Department of Space, was established in 2019. NSIL was established to
commercialize the benefits of ISRO's research and development.
The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center will be established
in June 2020, according to the government (IN-SPACe). This body acts as a
regulator and facilitator for the private space industry in India, with the goal
of governing, promoting, and steering the sector. In order for IN-SPACe to serve
as a regulator under Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty, a licensing,
permitting, and oversight system was established. It also serves as a liaison
for the private sector, assessing its needs in conjunction with ISRO. IN-SPACe
ensures that private companies are positioned on a level playing field in
India's space sector.
India has been long delayed in enacting robust space legislation. Articles 51
and 253 of the Indian Constitution mandate that India implement the required and
applicable laws to not only foster and expand public-private partnerships, but
also to harness indigenous knowledge. It should be underlined that once the bill
has been enacted and transformed into law, the government should not
over-regulate the private sector. The more permissive the system, the more
likely the government will attract investment in this area and establish India
as a global space powerhouse.
The entry of various private actors that shape the Indian space sector in the
upcoming decades with the passage of the Outer Space Activities Bill, aims to
provide a licencing and regulatory framework for the Indian space industry,
although the country shall have to wait and see what position the Indian
government will take on certain provisions of the draught law. The majority of
enterprises interested in the space sector in India are start-ups that cannot
afford to take on such large financial liability risks in their early stages. As
a result, the government must limit the licensee's obligation.
- As per ISRO's chief, K. Sivan
- Ashwati Pacha, The Hindu, The Hindu Explains: What is the Space Activities
(Last visited Mar 13, 2022).
- New Space India Ltd., https://www.nsilindia.co.in/Aboutus (Last visited Mar
- ISRO, Antrix Corporation Limited,
https://www.isro.gov.in/about-isro/antrix-corporation-limited (Last visited Mar
- Private sector will be allowed to use ISRO facilities and other relevant
assets to improve their capacities: DrJitendra Singh,
(Last visited Mar 13, 2022).
- NSIL, Vision And Mission, https://www.nsilindia.co.in/vision-and-mission,
(Last visited Mar 13, 2022).
- PIB Delhi, Historic reforms initiated in the Space sector,
(Last Visited Mar 13, 2022).