Narendra Modi who works as the Indian Prime Minister announced on October 11 that his government will expand collaboration with business, young inventors, and startups in the country’s space sector in order to achieve “exponential innovation.” The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is going to share its capabilities and R&D facilities with the business sector to achieve this goal.

Modi made the announcement at a speech commemorating the establishment of the Indian Space Association (ISpA), which is an industry trade group comprising space and satellite businesses that want to represent the industry’s collective voice. According to local media published in English, ISpA would engage in policy advocacy and interact with all participants in the Indian space sector, such as the government and its agencies.

OneWeb, Bharti Airtel, Mapmyindia, Larson & Toubro, Nelco, Walchandnagar Industries, and Ananth Technology Ltd are among its founding members. Godrej, Hughes India, BEL, Centum Electronics, Azista-BST Aerospace Private Limited, and Maxar India are among the other founding members. Lt. Gen. Anil Bhatt, a retired Indian Army officer, is the ISpA’s first director-general.

“Previously, the space sector was associated with the government. In his speech, which was live-streamed on YouTube, Modi added, “We transformed this thinking, ushered in innovation in the space industry, and given the mantra of collaboration between government and startups.” “This new perspective is critical because India’s moment has come for exponential innovation, not linear innovation. This will only be feasible if the government acts as an enabler rather than a handler.”

The government, as a partner, will “allow private actors to use public venues where entrepreneurs may come up with distinctive ideas,” the prime minister stated. “The government is sharing its experience from military to space, offering a launch pad for the commercial sector, and ISRO’s facilities are being opened,” Modi said. “We’ll make sure that mature sector technology is transferred to private enterprises, and the government will operate as a space asset aggregator.”

Meanwhile, OneWeb, whose major shareholder is India’s Bharti Global, revealed on October 11 that it had signed a letter of intent with the NewSpace India Limited, which is the commercial arm of India’s space agency ISRO, to deploy OneWeb satellites on both the PSLV and GSLV Mark 3 rockets as early as 2022. The letter is non-binding, yet OneWeb and NewSpace India have agreed to work together to make it a legally binding contract. Through a deal with Arianespace, OneWeb is launching its first constellation on Soyuz rockets.

During Modi’s event, OneWeb’s letter of intent was highlighted. ISRO Chairman K. Sivan remarked, “We are happy to have OneWeb investigating into how the launch capabilities may help them fulfill their global aim to connect people everywhere.” “We’re making great progress, and India is improving its space capabilities, and we’re excited to collaborate.”

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