Regulation of Global Space Sector
- Growth of Space Industry
- Challenges in fulfilling global space potential
- India’s Situation
- Outer space has become an arena of some of the most memorable technology demonstration.
Growth of Space Industry:
- Technological changes augur well for space industry. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 sends satellite to space at the cost of $2720 per kg. This is expected to go down to $100 per kg in next decade. This will lead to increase in number of satellites and human tourists going to space.
- According to Bank of America Report, today the space market is of $350 billion and this is expected to go to $2.7 trillion by 2050.
- Private sector’s contribution in growth of space sector would be immense. SpaceX’s Starlink plans more than 10,000 satellites to provide everyone everywhere access to internet. In next decade more than 80,000 satellites could be in space compared to around 3,000 today.
- Thus, space sector presents a lot of future potential.
Key challenges in fulfilling Global Space Potential
- Multilateral Governance Framework of outer space is obsolete: Space law is the product of 1960s and 1970s.
- The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 enshrines the idea that space should be “province of all mankind” and “not subject to national appropriation by claims of sovereignty”. The Rescue Agreement, Space Liability Convention, and the Space Registration Convention further expanded the provisions of the outer space treaty. The Moon Treaty of 1979 was not ratified by the major space faring nations.
- Key Problems:
- No Dispute Resolution Mechanism
- No provisions related to collision or debris.
- Insufficient guidance on interference with other’s assets
- These gaps heighten the potential of conflict in an era of congested orbits and breakneck technological change.
- Legal Frameworks are state-centric and don’t cover private sector.
- However, the non-state entities are now in the fray for commercial space exploration and utilization.
- Space Arms Race is difficult to curb.
- Militaries rely a lot on space technologies. So, investment in technologies that can destroy or disrupt space-based capabilities is under way.
- Not much has been done on this front. The UNGA passed a resolution on Prevention of an Arms Race in outer Space since 1982. But not much progress has been made since then. Further, the current geopolitical situation doesn’t hold hope for addressing concerns of a space arms race.
Situation in India:
- India has invested enormous resources in space sector through ISRO. Our future plans are also ambitious which include sending humans to space, establishing a solar observatory, installing a modular space station
- India is also promoting the involvement of private players and for this an autonomous body IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre) under Department of Space for permitting a regulating activity in private sector has been established.
Way Forward: The Space environment that India faces requires us to grow beyond meeting technical milestones. We need a space legislation enabling coherence across technical, legal, commercial, diplomatic and defence goals. Our space vision also needs to address the global governance, regulatory and arms control issues. As Space opens, our space vision needs broadening too.
- “Technological changes have made the global space sector full of future potentials, but limitations of multilateral governance framework hinder it” Discuss [15 marks, 150 words]