Creating an Ecosystem for Defence & Space

Show: Aero India 2023 - Day 3 By Ayushee Chaudhary

Academia, research and development, and industry, there's a need to create an ecosystem, bringing together all these various aspects of the space industry to make the best use of the resources in order to create a strong space backed defence system. This was underlined by the various experts who gathered to discuss about nurturing the defence-space ecosystem as well as the possibilities and opportunities, organised by the Indian Space Association on the sidelines of Aero India 2023.

The panelists also discussed about the need to have focussed market outlook, facilitate innovation, involve academia more, enhance finances, and also make more use of Indian space communication technologies like NAVIC. The panelists also talked about the crucial role of industry organisations like Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Defence Space Agency (DSA) and more.

Space is a force multiplier, a major force enabler. It is the domain where India has the opportunity to lead and we have to start channelising it and putting the money in it, highlighted Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria (Retd), former Chief of the Air Staff.

The sessions also revealed that Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) is working towards a special seed funding space programme as well as an MoU with iDEX which has been instrumental in funding startups. A study on a decade long market outlook by IN-SPACe is also coming out in April this year.

Space Technology Parks, a concept paper, was also unveiled during the seminar. The aim of the document is to incentivise industry in India and proposes to set-up "Space Technology Parks (STPs) as "Centres of Excellence in space technology products, applications and systems to further facilitate Atmanirbharta in space.

This is the first time, there was a focused discussion on Space-Defence alignment during Aero India. The India Pavilion at the show this year also has a dedicated DefSpace area.

During DefExpo2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched Mission DefSpace. The Mission was launched with the goal of making India Atmanirbhar in defence technologies in the space domain. The Mission aims to encourage technology development in space for defence applications by startups and young entrepreneurs through 75 Defence Space Challenges launched across various Department for Defence Production (DDP) initiatives viz iDEX, 'Make 1', and 'Make 2'. These technologies, with dual-use applications, will accelerate the all-round development of India while safeguarding our national interests.

Ever since the government introduced the private reforms in the space sector, there has been a push towards strengthening the space industry and now aligning it with defence is further enabling that boost.