India’s space program is renowned for its efficiency and affordability, yet its global space industry market share stands at a meager 2 percent. To bolster India’s position, the involvement of private players is deemed essential due to their enhanced resource pool, increased risk appetite, competition, and incentives for technological advancements.

In light of this perspective, there are ongoing efforts to restructure India’s space sector to encourage greater participation from private industries.

However, the increased role of the private sector in the space industry faces the following challenges:

  • Space policy: India lacks a clear space policy to guide the participation of the private sector. Additionally, the absence of sector-specific policies hinders commercialization, such as those related to the use of satellite communications and remote sensing data.
  • Economic costs: Critics argue that the space sector receives inadequate funding, diminishing its status as a priority. For instance, the absence of a follow-up mission after the successful launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission in 2014 exemplifies this issue.
  • Data risks: There is a concern regarding the potential misuse or improper utilization of crucial launch data, capabilities, and the leakage of technology to hostile entities.
  • Regulation: Regulating private sector participation and validating their capabilities could be time-consuming. Moreover, the risk of unfair commercial practices, such as lobbying and corruption to obtain space projects, may emerge.
  • Start-up ecosystem investment: The total investment in India’s space sector start-up ecosystem is merely around 20 million USD, accounting for less than 0.5 percent of global investment.
  • Revenue loss: The involvement of private players in satellite launch services could potentially reduce the revenue of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

To facilitate greater participation from private players in the space sector, the following measures can be implemented:

  • Government support: Government agencies and ISRO can provide initial assistance to private entities through the use of test-beds and shared capabilities, thereby reducing the burden of costs.
  • Financial support: Offering soft credit for long-term projects, ensuring a guaranteed revenue stream, and establishing a robust insurance framework are crucial to ensure the financial viability of space enterprises, including ventures like space tourism.
  • Commercialization efforts: Greater emphasis should be placed on commercializing the space sector. Initiatives such as IN-SPACE and NSIL should be integrated with programs like Atal Incubation Centers.
  • Global collaboration: Collaboration with international partners, including industry-academia linkages, can enhance India’s access to skilled human resources and provide insights into global best practices in managing space enterprises, drawing inspiration from companies like SpaceX.
  • Inter-agency coordination: Coordination between different government agencies and ministries, such as Defense, Science and Technology, Education, and MSME (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises), is necessary to facilitate a holistic approach to the space sector.
  • Technology absorption: Promoting the absorption of critical space technologies required for human space flight, such as orbital modules, crew escape systems, and re-entry and recovery systems, is essential for India’s progress in this field.


Commercializing the space industry will enable India to benefit from the expanding global space business. By formulating a comprehensive space policy, we can strive to achieve the vision set forth by our current Prime Minister: “Space is the space to be in!”

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish February 5, 2024