New space policy soon; India can have its own 'SpaceX-like ventures': Ajay Kumar Sood

Principal Scientific Advisor Ajay Kumar Sood said the final version of the space policy would soon be referred to the Empowered Technology Group for further examination.

Seeking to further increase private participation, the government will soon unveil a new space policy that could see the rise of India's own "SpaceX-like ventures", Principal Scientific Advisor Ajay Kumar Sood has said.

In an interview with PTI, the government's top science advisor said consultations have taken place, and the final version of the space policy would soon be referred to the Empowered Technology Group for further examination.

"Space policy is in the works. We have not been using it much, but the new technology of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites is a low-cost game. There are a huge number of satellites in LEO. That will change the space sector," said Sood, who assumed office on April 25.

He said the government will encourage the manufacturing of satellites in the private sector for a range of applications—from healthcare, agriculture to urban development, and property tax estimation.

"We have not tapped the full potential of this sector. In 2022, the space sector is witnessing what the information technology sector experienced in the 1990s. We will have our own SpaceX in the next two years," he said.

SpaceX—founded by Elon Musk in 2002—is a private space transportation company that designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.

He said there were immense opportunities for use of space technology for the benefit of humankind, but there were limitations on what the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) could do.

"New launch vehicles are developed, new fuels for spacecraft are developed, which will connect the unconnected. That is the theme—connect the unconnected—which will happen when we open up the space sector," Sood said.

With the opening up of the space sector, there could be dedicated satellites for various sectors, including agriculture, education, disaster management, ecommerce, etc., he said.

"Edusat was launched in 2004. The second version has not been launched yet. So, why not let the private sector come into the business? That will happen. For the agriculture sector, we can have satellites that can give information about climate, soil conditions, etc. It can be called E-Krishi. The thought process is already on. What is lacking are the satellites," Sood said.

According to industry estimates, the global space economy is pegged at $423 billion with India constituting about three percent.

Morgan Stanley estimates the global space industry will expand up to $1 trillion by 2040.

Edited by Suman Singh