China marked its arrival in the private sector space race last week, as OneSpace became the first Chinese company to launch a small rocket—its first step towards sending numerous small satellites in space.
Private companies, big and small, are vying to send objects to space, and there are a number of ongoing experiments to see how space can be utilized to provide services such as broadband and tourism, and even explore the possibility of asteroid mining.
But the absence of a regulatory framework has been an impediment to private investment. Last month, the US House of Representatives passed the Space Commerce Free Enterprise Bill, which bundles all approvals under one roof to make it easier for companies to send space missions. India needs something similar from the Space Activities Bill, 2017.
India’s Isro is primarily a research organisation, and private investment is crucial to realize its potential. A nodal agency that provides a legal framework and rules accommodating the different requirements of various businesses will be essential as we go forward.