India Aerospace Commercial Space
India is one of only a few countries in the world with an advanced space program, and its commercial space sector has experienced major growth over the last several years. On August 23, 2023, India successfully landed a spacecraft on the moon, becoming the fourth country in the world to have achieved this feat, and the very first country to have landed near the moon’s south pole.
The Indian commercial space sector is on the threshold of significant change. In May 2020, the Indian government announced access for the Indian private sector to its space activities and programs to develop and enhance private sector participation in the country’s space programs and to expand its share of the global market, reflecting a major shift in its space policy. This included access to India’s Bengaluru-based national space agency, the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) facilities and future space travel. ISRO under the Indian government’s Department of Space (DOS) leads all space programs in the country.
As part of its reforms structure to facilitate private sector participation, the Indian government established a nodal autonomous regulatory body called the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) under the DOS. IN-SPACe regulates and authorize space activities and acts as an interface between ISRO and the private sector to promote, enable, authorize and supervise various space-based activities of the private sector and sharing of space infrastructure and establishment of new space facilities.
ISRO’s commercial arm, New Space India Limited (NSIL) established in 2019 facilitates and supports the commercialization of government-funded space technologies from ISRO to the private sector including manufacturing satellites and launch vehicles, procurement of space technologies and providing launch services.
According to various space industry estimates, India’s share of the global space market currently stands at less than three percent with the industry projected to reach ten percent within the next five to seven years. India’s space launch business currently account for less than one percent of the global launch services market.
India’s private sector space ecosystem and entrepreneurial space culture is in its infancy, but increasingly growing fast. The participation of the Indian private sector in India’s space activities had been earlier limited to a few companies manufacturing and supplying sub-systems and components to ISRO. There are several Indian early stage start-ups today that are developing innovative space systems, designing of launch vehicles and manufacturing small satellites. Several Indian companies manufactured and supplied components for India’s successful Chandrayaan-3 moon mission.
India’s initial steps towards privatization efforts potentially open up opportunities for international space companies. As the nascent Indian private sector gears up to play a greater role in Indian space programs, it will look towards international cooperation and partnerships to develop and upgrade their capabilities. This would enable opportunities for collaboration for U.S. space companies, especially small and medium enterprises to partner with Indian industry.
India’s space policy that seeks to establish a regulatory framework for space activities in the country was released in April 2023, to be followed with a space activities bill expected to further define regulations governing all space-related activities in the country.
As with most industry sectors, the key factors to successfully enter the Indian space market include careful research and analysis, building relationships and finding the right partners who have knowledge of working in this sector, and good planning.
The U.S. Commercial Service in India offers customized solutions to help U.S. businesses in the Indian market. For more information, U.S. firms can contact the U.S. Commercial Service India team for commercial space or reach out to your local U.S. office to learn how to get started.