The Indian Space Research Organisation ended the year 2020 on a high note with its workhorse — the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle — successfully placing the communication satellite CMS-01 in its orbit (Report on p9)

India’s space program has grown exponentially in the past six decades, expanding from simple mapping services in the 1960s to many diversified uses and the country spent around $1.8 billion on space programs in 2019-20.

However, the country still lags behind the major players in the space sector, such as the US, which spent about 10 times more than India in the space sector in 2019-20, and China, which spent about six times more, the Economic Survey said.

“India has launched around five-seven satellites per year in the recent years. On the other hand, the US, Russia and China dominate the satellite launching services with 19, 25 and 34 satellites, respectively, in 2019,” it said.


As per industry estimates, there are more than 40 start-ups working in India with funding, teams and structure on space and satellite projects complimenting the efforts of government.

This number is likely to increase in coming years with technology is expected to play a big role. The recent reforms announced by the government for unlocking the space potential of India stresses the need for enabling the private industry to be the co-traveller in India’s space journey.

As per Satellite Industry Association Report (2020), the global space economy in 2019 was pegged at $366 billion, growing by about 1.7 per cent over 2018. The commercial satellite industry is accounting for nearly 75 per cent of global space business.

Technology innovations and demand drives the need for higher bandwidth capacity, throughput speeds, improved optical, radar and thermal imaging. PwC estimates that the Indian space economy is valued at $7 billion, which is around 2 per cent of the global space economy.

The space program has many diversified uses including - design and development of a series of launch vehicles and related technologies, satellites and related technologies for earth observation, telecommunication and broadband, navigation, meteorology and space science, R&D in space sciences, and most recently, planetary exploration, the Survey observed.

Space Program

India’s space program is one of the most well-developed in the world and has achieved numerous successes through its state-owned agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) which is responsible for driving the space activities in India, it said.

With the long-term vision of making the country self-reliant and technologically-advanced, the government in June 2020, opened up the Space sector enabling the participation of Indian private sector in the entire gamut of space activities.

New Space India Limited (NSIL), a Central Public Sector Enterprise under Department of Space, has been mandated to transfer the technologies emanating from Indian space program and enable Indian industry to scale up high-technology manufacturing base.

The government has also established Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) for promoting industries and attracting investment in space sector. Further, ISRO would be sharing its infrastructure, transfer technology know-how for production and spin-off.

These measures would help India become a manufacturing hub of space assets, the Survey added.