New Era in Indian Space Sector

[vc_section][vc_row][vc_column width=\”1/2\”][vc_column_text css=\”.vc_custom_1671623080276{border-top-width: 1px !important;border-right-width: 1px !important;border-bottom-width: 1px !important;border-left-width: 1px !important;padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;background-color: #434a9b !important;border-left-color: #434a9b !important;border-left-style: solid !important;border-right-color: #434a9b !important;border-right-style: solid !important;border-top-color: #434a9b !important;border-top-style: solid !important;border-bottom-color: #434a9b !important;border-bottom-style: solid !important;}\”]1. Expert in the Panel

  • Surendra Pal, Distinguished Scientist & Former Senior Advisor, ISRO
  • W. Selvamurthy, President, Amity Science, Technology & Innovation Foundation, Amity University
  • Ratan Shrivastava, Author & Independent Consultant on Aerospace


2. Reasons for being in News

18th November, 2022 will go down in history as a significant day, marking a new era in India’s space programme. The country’s first privately developed rocket, Vikram-S was successfully launched on Friday in a sub-orbital mission from the Sriharikota spaceport. Named ‘Prarambh’, the mission marks the beginning of a private venture into the promising space launch market. The rocket has been developed by Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace, a company that was started in 2018 by two former ISRO engineers. It is named after Vikram Sarabhai, the founder of India’s space programme. PM Narendra Modi hailed it as an important milestone in the journey of India’s private space industry, asserting that the accomplishment bears testimony to the immense talent of the youth. In Perspective today, we’ll analyse with eminent experts all about Mission Prarambh, the road it paves for increased private sector participation and India’s position in the global space market.

3. Discussion

3.1. Introduction:

India’s first privately developed rocket, Vikram-S was successfully launched in a sub-orbital mission from the Sriharikota spaceport.  Named ‘Prarambh’, the mission marks the beginning of a private venture into the promising space launch market.  The rocket has been developed by Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace. It  is sanctioned by In-Space, a nodal body under the department of space that authorises private missions. It is named after Vikram Sarabhai, the founder of India’s space programme. The engine used in the launch vehicle – Kalam-80, is named after former president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam.


It will carry 3 customer payloads (2 Indian and 1 foreign), including one by SpaceKidz India called FunSat, parts of which were developed by school students. The Vikram-S is a Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), which will carry between 290 kg and 560 kg payloads into sun-synchronous polar orbits. The rocket has the capability of reaching Mach 5 – five times the speed of sound – and carrying a payload of 83kg (183 pounds) to an altitude of 100km (62 miles).



3.2. Significance of the Mission:

PM Narendra Modi hailed it as an important milestone in the journey of India’s private space industry, asserting that the accomplishment bears testimony to the immense talent of the youth. 

The rocket launch will help test and validate the majority of the technologies in the Vikram series of orbital class space launch vehicles, including many sub-systems and technologies that will be tested across the pre-lift off and post-lift off phases of the launch. Despite having the world’s most accomplished space program, India’s space sector accounts for only 2-3% of the global space economy.

What is the current status of the Space Economy?

The $447 billion global space market includes (a) Upstream market (commercial satellite market, launch market, and institutional market); (b) Midstream market (operator revenue, ground infrastructure, and operations); (c) Downstream market (space services and consumer equipment).

Another basis of classification divides space economy into 3 components: (a) Manufacturing of Space-related Equipment (satellites, launch vehicles and ancillary equipment); (b) Space operations (launch operations, space surveillance, tracking, lease, brokerage, etc); (c) Space Applications (Direct to Home broadcast, satellite telephony, remote sensing, etc).

Researchers from the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) and the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) undertook a  first-of-its kind attempt at measuring the size of India’s space economy. The findings were outlined in a paper titled ‘The Space Economy of India: Its Size and Structure‘

They arrived at a figure of INR 36,794 crore (approximately US$ 5 billion) for the 2020-21 fiscal. Further, the estimated size of India’s space economy, as a percentage of the GDP, has slipped from 0.26% in 2011-12 to 0.19% in 2020-21. According to the paper, space applications accounted for the major chunk of this evolving space economy, constituting 73.57% (INR 27,061 crore) in 2020-21. It was followed by space operations (INR 8,218.82 crore or 22.31%) and manufacturing (INR 1515.59 crore or 4.12%).


To increase the share in the global business, Government of India has initiated the space sector reforms, to promote, handhold, regulate and authorise private enterprises and start-ups to undertake space activities. Around 100 start-ups have registered with the ISRO and are working closely with it in various domains of the space sector.


Agnikul Cosmos’s semi-cryogenic Agnilet engine was test- fired for 15 seconds at ISRO’s vertical testing facility at Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS), Thiruvananthapuram recently.  And ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicles (SSLV) are also likely to be manufactured and operated by private players soon. This will boost the entry of private players in the space sector in India with more private sector missions.

3.2.1. Why are private space ventures required?

As a government-funded research body,ISRO lacks funds required for a fully commercial venture. With demand for satellite launches growing on the back of increasing satellite-based internet and surveillance use, private space businesses are set to grow at breakneck speed.  The Satellite Industry Association of India expects at least 60,000 satellite launches globally by the end of 2025.

 Allowing private space firms to run missions opens up government funds for research, while also helping India take a larger share of the global space market. Allowing private firms has helped the US take the largest pie of the global space market in the last three decades.


Private players can bring in the innovation needed for developing space-based applications and services. Additionally, the demand for these services is soaring worldwide and in India, with satellite data, imageries and space technology being used across most sectors.

3.3. Space Sector Reforms:

In 2020, the Union Cabinet approved the draft legislation that enabled the private sector to participate or undertake a range of space activities, such as building/developing rockets and satellites, providing launching services and owning satellites.  Through this new draft, private businesses will be able to carry out R&D activities, collaborate with ISRO on various science and interplanetary missions and use ISRO’s facilities.

These reforms are implemented by a new nodal agency, the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), and while ISRO’s commercial activities are delegated to government-owned units—New Space India Ltd. (NSIL) and Antrix, leaving the organisation to focus on R&D, scientific missions and space exploration. Also, the NSIL will reorient its space activities from a ‘supply-driven model’ to a ‘demand-driven model’ and ensure optimum utilisation of space assets.

NSIL is the commercial arm of ISRO and primarily responsible for enabling Indian industries to take up high-tech, space-related activities. It is also responsible for promotion and commercialisation of products and services in the space industry.

3.4. India’s position in the global space market:

According to SpaceTech Analytics, India is the sixth largest player in the industry internationally, with 3.6% of the world’s space-tech companies. The US is the housing leader of 56.4% of all companies in the space-tech ecosystem. Other major players include the UK (6.5%), Canada (5.3%), China (4.7%) and Germany (4.1%).

Most of the companies in this sector, globally, are involved in manufacturing spacecraft equipment and satellite communications. The Indian Space Industry was valued at $7 billion in 2019 and aspires to grow to $50 billion by 2024.

Funding into the sector’s start-ups in India nearly tripled to 67.2 million dollars on a year-over-year basis in 2021. India’s standout feature is its cost-effectiveness. India holds the distinction of being the first country to have reached Mars orbit in its first attempt and at $75 million — way cheaper than Western standards[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=\”1/2\” is_sticky=\”yes\” sticky_min_width=\”767\” sticky_top=\”130\” sticky_bottom=\”0\”][vc_custom_heading text=\”Perspective: New Era in Indian Space Sector | 18 November, 2022\” font_container=\”tag:h2|font_size:24PX|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff|line_height:34PX\” use_theme_fonts=\”yes\” css=\”.vc_custom_1671623142857{margin-top: 0px !important;margin-bottom: 0px !important;padding-top: 10px !important;padding-right: 10px !important;padding-bottom: 10px !important;padding-left: 10px !important;background-color: #434a9b !important;}\”][vc_video link=\”\” css=\”.vc_custom_1671623126541{margin-top: 0px !important;padding-top: 0px !important;}\”][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section]

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