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NEW DELHI: A new Space Policy 2020 drafted by Takshashila Institution, a think tank and public policy school, proposed decoupling the regulatory and service delivery roles of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) to create a level-playing field for new entrants.
The policy said the present space ecosystem is centralised around Isro, which is a research organisation, service delivery establishment, regulatory, licensing and compliance agency as well as a disputes settlement body. Therefore, it proposed establishment of an independent Space Regulatory of India (SRAI), which will be responsible for setting standards, licensing space activities and compliance of these activities, and Space Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal to adjudicate disputes and settle appeals to protect the interest of service providers.
It also mulled setting up of space PSU Bharat Space Corporation (BSC), which will provide a whole range of space services, directly or through subsidiaries and will be under the ambit of SRAI.
In an interview to TOI, Nitin Pai, co-founder and director of Takshashila, said, “The recommendations were drafted by a task force consisting of myself & Utkarsh Narain from Takshashila, and Siddhey Shinde (Astrome, space technology co) and Yashas Karanam (Bellatrix, space company). They are derived from the outcome of Takshashila’s space policy conclave where a number of experts from the government and private sector came together to discuss the future of the space industry.”
On proposing a regulator and a tribunal, Nitin Pai said, “One of the most basic principles of governance and fair play is that the same entity (Isro) cannot be the player, umpire and rule-maker. So the first step in the opening of any industry sector is the structural separation of these roles: in telecom, we used to have telecom department in the 1980s providing the service, regulating the industry as well as making policy. Today those functions are split between BSNL, TRAI, TDSAT and DoT. The space regulatory authority and dispute settlements tribunals can create a level-playing field for private industry to operate in the space sector. They will be neutral umpires.”
On the fate of Isro’s existing commercial arms Antrix Corporation and NewSpace India Ltd, the Takashashila founder told TOI, “Policy proposed that existing arms will become subsidiaries of the space PSU.” BSC shall explore public-private partnership (PPP) models for building satellites and launch vehicles, etc. This will help drive private capital and solving some capacity constraints, the policy said.
Nitin Pai said, “Even after liberalisation, Isro will have an important role to play. As the national space agency, it will conduct missions like Chandrayaan, Mangalyaan etc that push the frontiers of science, and drive national space exploration. It will also engage in the development of strategic technologies.”
The policy proposed that SRAI, in consultation with the Space Commission, shall come up with a comprehensive framework for licensing and regulation of private human space flights in a year.
The regulations shall delineate safety and technical requirements of the space vehicle, liability and insurance requirements for the company as well as participants.

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