At INSPACe things move at good speed, but questions remain

In space, things move slowly. But at IN-SPACe, things seem to be moving at rocket speed. So much so, even before the Space Policy and the Space Activities Bill were finalised, permission for the launch of India’s first rocket built by a private company has been accorded.

The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) is the regulator for the private sector space players.

On Tuesday, rocket making startup Skyroot Aerospace said it will launch its Vikram-S rocket between November 12-16 from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) rocket port in Sriharikota.

The company said necessary permissions have been obtained for the rocket launch with three satellites.

This pops up the questions like when was `The Draft National Spa e Transportation Policy-2020′ approved and what about the financial guarantee or the insurance cover to be provided by the rocket launching company to the sectoral regulator.

As per the original draft policy, IN-SPACe authorisation requires the financial guarantee or insurance cover by the proposer/rocket launch company as part of its ownership towards fulfilment of nation’s liability as per international agreements.

Questions sent to INSPACe’s top officials by IANS on the insurance aspect remained unanswered.

“As per the regulations up to certain value of damage, companies are liable and beyond that the state will foot the bill. The liability determination process is finalised and managed by INSPACe,” S. Somanath, Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman, ISRO told IANS.

He said for the rockets, the liability is determined by the type of the rocket mission, range and others. The ISRO will do this exercise. For the satellites, the issue of liability cannot be estimated and has to be determined case to case basis.

Pawan Kumar Chandana, CEO and Co-Founder, Skyroot Aerospace had told IANS that the insurance aspect has been taken care off but declined to mention the insurer’s name citing a non-disclosure agreement.

Industry officials told IANS that revised draft regulations governing the sector were shared with the companies and industry associations to get their feedback.

While the original draft regulations were put out to the public for comments, why the same was not done with the second draft is not known.

“As per the revised thinking, the regulations will be part of the N ew Space Policy 2022. The conditions like insurance, financial guarantee will be part of the Space Activities Bill,” retired Lt. General A.K. Bhatt, Director General, Indian Space Association, told IANS.

Both-the Space Activities Bill and the New Space Policy- in work in progress stage, industry officials said.

Space sector start-ups said that the sectoral regulator is lending them a helping hand on various aspects.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

20221109-141603

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