Union minister for department of space Jitendra Singh has said the private sector will be allowed to use facilities and assets of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) and they will be provided a level-playing field in satellites, launches and space-based services. His comments came days after FM Nirmala Sitharaman broke Isro’s monopoly by allowing the private sector to access Isro’s assets to expand their technology base.
Briefing about the country’s achievements in space technology, Jitendra Singh on Tuesday said the PM’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ roadmap towards self-relied India envisages the initiative to boost private participation in space activities.
The private sector will be a co-traveller in India’s space journey, he said. His remark came weeks after US private sector company SpaceX launched Nasa astronauts to the International Space Station with the help of its Falcon-9 rocket.
Future projects for planetary exploration and outer space travel will be open for the private sector, the minister said. Isro has on its launch schedule Aditya L-1 solar mission (scheduled this year), Venus mission in 2023, lunar polar exploration mission and Mangalyaan-2 (MOM-2) in 2024. But it remains to be seen whether Isro will be able to meet these launch targets after the pandemic has severely affected its space activities.
On the ‘Gaganyaan’ manned mission, scheduled to be launched by 2022, Singh said the selection of the astronauts was accomplished and their training in Russia had also started but it got interrupted because of the pandemic. He said the mission would be followed up soon.
Though the two unmanned testflights with a ‘humanoid’ are scheduled before the actual mission, it remains to be seen whether Isro will meet the 2022 deadline.
Even during the pandemic, Isro scientists have been engaged in search of best methods to provide essential medical devices, protective kits and other equipment, the minister said.