BANGALORE: The Department of Space (DoS), which has, between October 2020 and August 2021, released six new draft policies for public consultation is ready with three of those to be placed before the Union Cabinet for approval. Seven more are in various stages of finalization.

The new policies are in line with the Centre’s push for reform in the space sector, aimed at significantly higher participation from the private sector. As reported by TOI earlier, private enterprises would have access to DoS infrastructure, including launchpads, can get technologies from ISRO, use facilities for testing, besides building, owning, and operating their own satellites and launch vehicles.

Space exploration and future human space programs will also see enhanced participation from the private industry. While the space communications, remote sensing, and transfer of technology (ToT) policies will be sent to the Cabinet after being cleared by the Space Commission, three more — humans in space, navigation, and space transportation policies — are being revised to include some suggestions from ministries, industry, and the public.

A senior scientist from ISRO headquarters said that aside from these six, the DoS has drafted policies on FDI, space exploration, space situational awareness (SSA), and national space policy, which will be released for public consultation soon, taking the total number of new policies to 10. Apart from these, there is the Space Activities Bill, which will act as the umbrella legislature for all policies, the scientist said.

K Sivan, secretary, DoS, while confirming the developments said: “...The space communications, remote sensing, and ToT policies are in the final form and ready for Space Commission, after which it will go to the Cabinet.”

When a new policy is drafted, it first gets a nod from the DoS expert committee, following which it is put out for public consultation. Once this process is over, the DoS incorporates new suggestions after which the revised document goes through an informal review of the empowered technology group. Once the empowered technology group review is complete, it is placed before the Space Commission before being sent to the Cabinet. “Drafts of all 10 policies and the Space Activity Bill are ready. They are in various stages of finalization. The entire process should be complete in the next few months,” Sivan added.

ISRO has plans for three earth observation (EO) satellite missions in the first quarter of 2022. While two of them — EOS-4 (Risat-1A) and EOS-6 (Oceansat-3) — will be launched using PSLV, the third one, EOS-2 (Microsat), will be launched in the first developmental flight of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).