scorecardIndia's Draft Space Communications Policy puts liability for damage to outer space objects on private sector players
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India's Draft Space Communications Policy puts liability for damage to outer space objects on private sector players

India's Draft Space Communications Policy puts liability for damage to outer space objects on private sector players
LifeScience4 min read
Chennai, Indian private sector players wanting to provide communication service within and outside India using a space-based asset are liable for damages caused to other space objects in outer space and its environment, states the Draft Space Based Communication Policy of India-2020 (Spacecom Policy-2020) and draft Norms, Guidelines and Procedures for implementation of Spacecom Policy-2020 (Spacecom NGP-2020).

According to the drafts released by the Department of Space (DOS), private players can provide communication services using space based assets within and outside India.

As regards any damages that may occur to other space objects in the outer space the private service providers are liable for financial damages and they have to take care of that by providing financial guarantee or insurance cover.

The extent of financial guarantee or the insurance cover will be determined by the Indian authorising/licensing body taking into account the risks involved in nature and operations of that space object in outer space.

The DOS has called for comments on the draft policy by 4.11.2020.

According to the draft Spacecom Policy-2020 any communication service within the Indian territory from space can be carried out only with an authorised space asset.

Only Indian entities are eligible for obtaining space asset authorisation.

As per the draft policy, any Indian entity can seek authorisation for use of space asset for communication within Indian territory.

This authorisation addresses use of Indian orbital resource, non-Indian orbital resource, use of owned or leased space asset.

The draft policy also proposes to allow Indian companies to establish ground system within Indian territory for monitoring and controlling space asset.

While use of outer space for peaceful purposes is governed by the UN treaties and international conventions, use of orbital resources is governed by radio regulations of the specialised UN agency, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Government of India as member of such UN bodies has responsibilities and obligations towards use of outer space as a common province of humanity.

Towards meeting this responsibility and obligation, it is essential that Government of India has the knowledge and provisions of having control on the activities with respect to any communication involving space objects from its territory and defines the roles and responsibilities for each of the stakeholders.

This necessitates that the use of space based communication in any frequency of electromagnetic spectrum, to or from Indian territory, be permitted through a process of authorisation.

Under the provisions of Spacecom Policy-2020, Indian entities can establish and operate satellite systems to provide capacity for communication services with authorisations.

Indian entities can undertake design, development and realisation of satellites and associated communication systems. They can establish satellite system through their own built satellite or procured satellite.

The Indian companies can establish telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C) earth stations and satellite control centre (SCC) in or outside India.

They can offer the capacity to commercial and societal communications within India as well as outside India. They can also supply their systems and solutions to international markets.

Indian entities can avail Indian as well as non-Indian orbital resources to establish their space based systems for communication services over India and outside India.

Indian orbital resources can be availed from designated public sector undertaking under DOS on commercial basis subject to availability.

The authorised Indian entities can directly offer their capacities to customers.

As per the proposed policy use of Non-Indian orbital resources shall be permitted subject to an appropriate arrangement by which such orbital resources are eventually brought under Indian administration, through Indian ITU filing.

"The authorization requires a satisfactory commitment by the applicant through an appropriate arrangement with the concerned foreign administration which has the priority for the use of the proposed orbital resources. In case of a leased space asset, apart from the applicant, the operator of such asset shall also agree and commit for the arrangement of bringing the orbital resources eventually under Indian administration," the draft policy notes.

The Spacecom Policy-2020 states that the Government of India shall:

#Adopt measures to monitor and authorise use of space assets for communication to or from Indian territory.

#Ensure protection of space assets already put in place and adopt measures to bring in more space assets under the administrative control for enhancing ability to utilize space based communication for national needs.

#Promote increased participation of commercial Indian industry to provide space based communications both within the country and outside.

#Concentrate on realisation of space based communication systems for addressing the requirements that cannot be effectively, affordably and reliably satisfied by commercial Indian industry either because of national security concerns or economic factors.

#Provide a timely and responsive regulatory environment for the commercial Indian industry to establish and operate space based communication systems.

It is an opportune time to enable commercial communication activities to be carried out by non-governmental Indian entities to not only meet Indian requirements but also enable them to become significant players in global space communication arena, the draft policy notes.

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