Indian Space Research Organisation chief K Sivan on Thursday said that the private sector can now be part of inter-planetary missions.

“The private industry will also be offered opportunities to undertake R&D [research and development] activities and be co-traveller in advanced inter-planetary missions,” the statement from ISRO read. “The reforms in the space sector are aimed at tapping the potential of entire country for unlocking its potential by enabling private enterprises and start-ups to undertake end-to-end space activities.”

Sivan added that an “open and inclusive” space sector will lead to increased growth, job creation and innovations that will enable the Indian space industry to be an important player in the global space economy.

“Under these reforms, an autonomous nodal agency called Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Center (IN-SPACe) is being established under Department of Space as a separate vertical for permitting and regulating the activities of private industry in space sector,” the statement added. “IN-SPACe will act as a national nodal agency to hand-hold and promote private endeavours in space sector and for this ISRO will share its technical expertise as well as facilities.”

Sivan told PTI that the space agency had planned 10 launches that have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Gaganyaan will be impacted because of the lockdown...all industries have not yet started functioning,” he said, highlighting that work on the space project had been halted.

ISRO depends on the private sector for equipment used for its spacecraft. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, or MSMEs, which provide the said equipment, are among the worst-affected during the lockdown.

The Cabinet had approved the participation of the private sector in space activities, including planetary exploration projects.

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