India Space Congress 2024 Heralds New Bilateral Cooperation

The India Space Congress 2024, being held from June 26 to 28 in New Delhi, organised by SIA-India, kicked off to a grand start, today. Participants from over 300 global space organisations and 30 countries were present at the inaugural ceremony of the event

By RA News Desk

Space

New Delhi. SIA-India, the leading space industry association and advocate for space exploration and technology advancement, and organiser of the India Space Congress (ISC) announced strategic partnerships with multiple countries, including Switzerland, Australia, the US, Italy, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, as the SIA-India Partners for Viksit Bharat. These alliances, unveiled ahead of the ISC 2024, under the theme ‘Bridging Boundaries and Transforming Tomorrow,’ aim to elevate India’s space capabilities through international collaboration.

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ISC serves as a global hub for top-tier space experts. Beyond discussions, ISC offers exclusive networking opportunities, platforms for startups, and academic insights. With a focus on security, ISC also ensures the resilience of space assets. ISC also fosters innovation and progress in space exploration, uniting government, industry, and startups towards a future of boundless possibilities.

Dr Subba Rao Pavuluri, President, SIA-India said that, “These strategic alliances underscore India’s commitment to global cooperation in the space industry.”

Switzerland, Australia, the US, Italy, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, are the SIA-India Partners for Viksit Bharat mission

Anil Prakash, DG, SIA-India said that, “For the first time in the ISC series, the agenda places major emphasis on global collaborations. A special session on the Indo-Pacific coalition will explore collaborative efforts among nations such as Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the US, and the Philippines, joining forces with India to advance space exploration and technology. This session will highlight their shared vision for regional cooperation and its collective impact on space initiatives.”

Different thematic sessions at ISC 2024 will focus on a wide range of topics, such as space policy, regulatory analysis, satcom and spectrum management, investment, launch strategies, next-generation technologies, sustainable development, cyber security, AI, space defence, and the future of humanity in space.

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ISRO Chairman S Somanath, speaking at the inaugural ceremony, underscored the pressing need for increased internal demand within India’s satellite launch market. He pointed out the readiness of big companies to invest but noted their concerns regarding breakeven timelines and order acquisition. Somanath also stressed the significance of generating internal demand through advancements in satellite applications.

These strategic alliances underscore India’s commitment to global cooperation in the space industry:  Dr Subba Rao Pavuluri, President, SIA-India

Somanath also discussed the global decline in space access costs, attributing it largely to SpaceX, while noting that India’s rocket costs haven’t followed the same trend. Highlighting the necessity for cost reduction, he said it would aid small satellite launches and attract new space sector enterprises. He also mentioned the ambitious aims set forth by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for human space activity beyond the Gaganyaan mission, including the goal of landing on the moon by 2040.

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Despite the current limitations of India’s biggest rocket, GSLV MKIII, to enable round trips to the moon, Somanath emphasised the need for developing rockets with higher payload capacities to bring back samples and eventually humans. He stressed the importance of commercial sustainability and enhancing industrial capacity to produce launchers. Notably, he announced that GSAT-20 has received clearance and is scheduled for mid-August launch on Falcon 9.

Indo-Italian Space Collaboration

At the invitation of S. Somanath, President of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), Teodoro Valente delivered the keynote address at the ISC to illustrate the level of collaboration achieved between the two countries. Sergio Ledda, Scientific Attaché at the Italian Embassy in New Delhi, will present the most relevant actions in the field of research, with particular reference to Italy’s bid to locate the Einstein Telescope in Sardinia, for the detection of gravitational waves at the thematic sessions of the ISC.

In addition, Antonietta Baccanari, Director of the Ice Agency Office in New Delhi will illustrate the Italian industrial system in the field of aerospace and the opportunities for collaboration with the Indian ecosystem. Managing Director of Leonardo in Aerospace in India, Roberto Domenici, and for Elt Group, Roberto Simonetti Spallotta and Francesco Muolo, will be the speakers at the different sessions of the Congress.

Italy and India collaborated in the development of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, which included a lander and a rover developed by the Indian space agency – ISRO, and a laser instrument developed by the Italian space agency – ASI

In the meetings over the last two years between Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, both expressed their willingness to consolidate and implement collaboration in the space sector, which is one of the pillars of the strategic partnership between Italy and India.

In space research, Italy has reached a global competitive level and India has a rapidly growing space program. Both collaborate in satellite technology and remote sensing, as well as space exploration. For example, among other things, Italy and India collaborated in the development of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, India’s second lunar exploration mission, which included a lander and a rover developed by the Indian space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and a laser instrument developed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI).

Indo-Australian Space Collaboration

Meanwhile, the Australian government has signed an $18-million memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the ISRO’s commercial arm NewSpace India Limited (NSIL). Under the partnership, announced in New Delhi by the Australian High Commissioner Philip Green today, Australian firm Space Machines will launch a satellite inspection and observation payload aboard Isro’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) in 2026. Rajat Kulshrestha, cofounder of Space Machines, said the payload would be the biggest Australian satellite launched to date.

“While Australia has partnerships with multiple nations for space ventures, we are taking our engagement with India to the next level. The partnership will lead to Australian satellites being launched into orbit from Indian soil,” Green said at the inaugural keynote at the ISC 2024.

Australian government has signed an $18-million MoU with the ISRO’s commercial arm NewSpace India Limited. Under the partnership, Australian firm, Space Machines will launch a satellite inspection and observation payload aboard ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) in 2026

The partnership will involve several stakeholders in India’s private space economy including domestic space-engineering firm Ananth Technologies, which has supplied components and engineering services to ISRO in many previous missions.

The collaboration marks one of India’s first cross-border investments in the space sector since it was privatised in 2020. India’s private space economy has attracted $370 million in investments till date, with Hyderabad-based space launch vehicle provider Skyroot Aerospace leading the pack at $95 million.