Front Page: India’s PM Vows Broader Public-Private Space Cooperation As OneWeb Eyes Indian Launches

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

by Park Si-soo — October 12, 2021
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the Oct. 11 launching ceremony of the Indian Space Association (ISpA) in this still image captured from YouTube.

SEOUL, South Korea — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Oct. 11 his government will widen cooperation with industry, young innovators and startups to bring about “exponential innovation” in the country’s space sector. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), will offer its R&D and expertise to the private sector.

Modi unveiled this plan in a speech marking the launch of the Indian Space Association (ISpA), an industry association of space and satellite companies, which aspires to be the collective voice of the Indian space industry. ISpA will undertake policy advocacy and engage with all stakeholders in the Indian space domain, including the government and its agencies, according to local reports published in English.

Its founding members include OneWeb, Larson & Toubro, Nelco, Bharti Airtel, Mapmyindia, and Walchandnagar Industries and Ananth Technology Ltd. Other core members include Godrej, Hughes India, Azista-BST Aerospace Private Limited, BEL, Centum Electronics, Maxar India.

ISpA’s inaugural director-general is retired Indian Army Lt. Gen. Anil Bhatt.

“Earlier, the space sector was synonymous with government. We changed this mindset, brought in innovation in the space sector and gave the mantra of cooperation between government and startups,” Modi said in the speech, which live streamed on YouTube. “This new outlook is important because it is not the time for linear innovation for India, but for exponential innovation. This can only be made possible when the government plays the role of an enabler and not a handler.”

“As a partner,” the prime minister said, the government will enable private players to access public platforms where entrepreneurs can come up with unique solutions.

“From the defense to space sector, the government is sharing its expertise, providing a launch pad for the private sector and ISRO’s facilities are being opened,” Modi said. “We will ensure that technology that has matured in the sector is transferred to private companies, and the government will act as an aggregator for space assets.”

OneWeb looking to India for launches

Meanwhile, OneWeb — which counts India’s Bharti Global as its largest shareholder — announced a letter of intent Oct. 11 with NewSpace India Limited, the commercial arm of India’s space agency ISRO, to launch OneWeb satellites on PSLV and GSLV Mark 3 rockets as soon as 2022. Although the letter is not binding, OneWeb and NewSpace India said they would work together to make it a binding contract. OneWeb will deploy its first constellation using Soyuz rockets under a contract with Arianespace.

OneWeb’s letter of intent was highlighted during Modi’s event. K. Sivan, Chairman of ISRO, said that OneWeb was looking at how their launch capabilities could help them meet their global ambitions to connect people all over the world. “We are making tremendous progress and India is advancing its space capabilities and we look forward to working together.”

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