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Space industry hopes for exciting 2022 after a forgettable 2021

The Indian space industry is eagerly looking forward to 2022 hoping that it could be an active year as compared to 2021 that is largely a forgettable one.

Speeding up the space sector reforms with final policies and activating the regulator for the private players, finalising the foreign direct investment (FDI) norms and passing of the Space Activities Bill and others are the expectations of the industry players for 2022.

The global space market is about $360 billion and is expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2040.

However, India’s share in the global pie is about two per cent, offering good potential for the new players.

Till now, the Indian space sector was a monopoly of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)- the country’s space agency – and private participation was in the form of component supplies to the former.

“The realisation of the uncrewed rocket flight — part of India’s human space mission Gaganyaan — will be a major boost, a source of inspiration in the hearts of the people. There will be a lot of excitement with two uncrewed rocket launches,” Dr Chaitanya Giri, Founder, DAWON Advisory & Intelligence told IANS.

He added that the Rs 9,023 crore Gaganyaan has a lot of strategic importance for the country apart from being a scientific achievement mission.

“The year 2022 will also see some progress in the Aditya-L1 mission to study the Sun. There are also two moon mission projects — the country’s own Chandrayaan-3 and the Indo-Japan moon mission (Lunar Polar Exploration Mission-LUPEX) and the Indo-US collaborative NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) Mission,” Giri said.

The Chandrayaan-3 is in an advanced stage of realisation with all the systems in both Propulsion Module and Rover Module having been realised, integrated and tested.

In the Lander Module, most of the systems have been realised and tests are underway. Integrated Sensors and Navigation performance tests on the Lander have been completed and other tests are in progress.

“Chandrayaan-3 is targeted to be launched in the second quarter of financial year 2022 -2023,” Union Minister of Science and Technology Dr Jitendra Singh told the Rajya Sabha.

As regards the NISAR, it was earlier said it will be put into orbit in 2022 by Indian rocket PSLV.

“The global interest in the Venus planet is increasing and India may join the bandwagon. There is a growing community of planetary scientists in India,” Giri remarked.

The ISRO is also expected to launch a couple of earth observation and other satellites next year.

While the above is about various satellite missions, at the ground level and part of the space sector reforms, the NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL) in 2022 should decide on the industry player(s) to make the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) or the PSLV rockets.

The NSIL had called for an Expression of Interest for production of PSLV rockets by an industry consortium.

On the rocket side, the ISRO has to realise next year its small rocket with a long winding name Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) with a capacity to carry 500 kg satellites.

The ISRO should also make progress in the construction of its second rocket port at Kulasekarapattinam in Tamil Nadu.

With the ISRO shifting focus to research and development (R&D), as part of the reform process, the committee that has been set up to recommend the methodology for right-sizing and optimal utilisation of the existing science and technology (S&T) manpower is expected to submit its report.

For the private sector start-ups making rockets and satellites too, next year is going to be crucial.

Small rocket makers Skyroot Aerospace Private Ltd and Agnikul Cosmos are hoping to fly their vehicles by the end of 2022 while the satellite maker Syzygy Space Technologies Pvt Ltd, commonly known as Pixxel is expected to fly its satellite sometime next year.

“The year 2022 is an important year as we bring everything together for a launch of Vikram-1 rocket and join the elite of the world in providing launch solutions,” Pawan Kumar Chandana, CEO and Chief Technology Officer, Skyroot Aerospace, told IANS.

As a part of opening up the space sector, the Indian government has constituted the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) as the sectoral regulator for the private players.

The IN-SPACe will also enable usage of ISRO’s facilities for them.

There are over 30 requests from private companies for support from IN-SPACe for their space activities which are expected to be decided next year.

Industry officials expect the IN-SPACe and the sectoral regulations to be as agile as the startups. IANS

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