Author: Deep Kathin, V Year of B.L.S.,LL.B(Hons.) From Rizvi Law College/ Mumbai, University.
Space law is the corpus of legislation that regulates operations involving space, and it includes both domestic and international agreements, regulations, and principles. Given technological advancements and government policies that have made it possible for private businesses to offer services related to placing objects into space, supplying equipment to Indian Space Research Organization, initiating satellites, among other operations, on a commercial basis, space, which has long been the exclusive domain for the public sector, is starting to open up to the private sector in India.
The initial step in India's journey into space was the establishment of the Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO), or Indian National Committee for Space Research as when it was known. In 1963, the first rocket was launched under the direction of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai. In 2017, ISRO launched the most potent home-built rocket, worked with NASA to develop an Earth-imaging satellite, deployed a South Asian satellite, and then launched an additional 104 satellites in a specific mission. By December 2019, ISRO had officially deployed over 300 satellites for 33 various nationalities. The Constitution of India, 1950, the Satellite Communication Policy, 1997, the amended Remote Sensing Data Policy, 2011, the ISRO's Technology Transfer Policy, and the establishment of a new organization called the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre(IN-SPACe), which is anticipated to be operational by December 2020, serve as the only regulatory framework governing the space industry in India.
The Indian Space Research Organization is the sole government organization in India with control over the space industry (ISRO). Only a small portion of component supply and manufacture by some commercial companies is involved in outsourcing. In an effort to support the "Make in India" initiative, ISRO recently outsourced satellite manufacture to a private sector company for the first time. An Indian start-up and ISRO entered into a contract last year to launch a rocket that will make an attempt to touch down on the moon. These actions point in the direction of the development of a private space technology ecosystem, which will increase bilateral, multilateral, and transitional activity. In the end, outsourcing will allow ISRO to spend less time developing satellites and launch vehicles and more time doing cutting-edge research to improve India's space missions. A clear and user-friendly architecture would guarantee that these interfaces operate without hiccups, prevent conflicts between them, and safeguard both the operators and the government from liability in the event of damage.
There are currently 22 countries with domestic space laws, and the only countries in the Asia-Pacific area that have done so are Australia, Japan, and South Korea. India must work for it as well. A strong space regime is therefore vitally essential. Its absence might prevent India from growing in the future. To ensure its creation and execution, we must act proactively.
Some policies are mentioned as follows
Technology Transfer Policy: - This well-defined and systematic policy makes it easier to provide a range of products and services related to space systems, including communications, broadcasting, geographic information services, manufacturing satellites and their components, transfer of technology from ISRO, and meteorological services, in order to increase industrial participation significantly. The Indian space programme has developed from its humble beginnings of experimental satellites and rocket engines to a fully operating programme fully capable of manufacturing satellites and rocket engines for varied requirements. The Indian space programme must make the most of the transfer of technology developed in many fields to Indian industry in order to maximize the resources invested, helping to promote technical independence, economic progress, and societal development.
Indian National Space Promotion And Authorization Centre (IN-SPACE):- By supporting, advising, and developing the private corporations in space activities through the use of a strong and advantageous regulatory environment, the IN-SPACE seeks to provide the participation of the private sector with a much-needed boost. Through enhanced access to ISRO infrastructures, satellite data, laboratories, scientific and technological resources, and other space assets, it would further improve the socioeconomic utilization of India's space resources and promote space-based activities. A robust legal framework would boost investor confidence, draw foreign direct investment (FDI) and new technologies, lessen administrative and regulatory uncertainty, offer additional clarity on stamp duty, regulatory standards, insurance, the transfer of property, contractual arrangements, space debris liability, and intellectual property rights regarding space-related issues, and foster space entrepreneurship by giving private entities a level playing field. The inadequate electronic manufacturing environment in India is one of the main obstacles to ISRO's operation.
The policymakers need to resolve the following issues in virtue of necessary space legislation:
Space debris- Space junk, also known as space debris, includes both man-made and natural particles that increase the possibility of catastrophic collisions that could harm spacecraft. NASA published some enduring recommendations on "How to deal with Space Debris" that were subsequently ratified by the UN General Assembly. However, in order to prevent international disputes, clear rules regarding the launching state's liability must be developed. The space treaties contained a number of forward-thinking clauses when they were first being written. Nobody anticipated, however, that the growing number of nations exploring and using space as well as the number of deployments would increase the risks to people and property on Earth, astronauts, and operating spacecraft. Even though no new space treaties have been proposed, the UN General Assembly has enacted a number of resolutions that clarify the terms of existing space treaties and cover issues that are not covered by them.
Security measures- Current space security issues have been debated in a number of global forums, but little progress has been made. Due in significant part to the lack of good faith on both sides, the majority of attempts for legally enforceable agreements on space security threats have failed. Non- binding agreements have had some success, but very few of them deal with security-related challenges. A spacecraft's manufacturing flaw leaves it vulnerable to cyber attacks and/or monitoring, which can violate people's privacy and compromise their data. To ensure that proper cyber security measures are in place, rules and regulations in conformity with data protection laws must be developed. India will need to concentrate on developing difficult-to-obtain strategic, dual-use space technologies. It would be wise to involve the private sector in the development of such technology. An institute for the advancement of space technologies can be established to encourage innovation. Hard-core technology development is only one aspect of space security. Commercial space technology use is significant as well. To promote the commercialization of space technologies, a legal framework would also need to be established, paying close attention to concerns like space trade, space-based commerce, and electromagnetic spectrum utilization.
Liability For Damage- According to article 2 of the 1972 liability convention, the launching state is completely responsible for any harm that its space object does to the earth's surface or to an aircraft's flight and must make up the difference. In accordance with section 12 of the draught space activities bill, 2017, the licensee is required to hold the central government harmless from any claims made by third parties relating to loss or damage sustained by a space vehicle or space activity. According to section 13 of the bill, engaging in commercial space operations without a licence or authorization would result in jail time and/or a heavy fine of Rs. 1 crore.
Single Independent Regulator- In contrast to the current ministries, agencies, and departments, such as the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Space, etc., a single independent regulator is necessary to carry out regulatory processes, such as the granting of an orbital location for the launch of a satellite or rocket, mandatory licence to do so, spectrum to communicate with it, and approval for the technology and/or space equipment to be used. Additionally, criteria for approving or rejecting necessary applications must be in place in order to have a clear and approachable regulatory Eco-system and prevent excessive delays that raise expenses. However, vigilance must be exercised to prevent the Indian space industry from becoming unduly regulated, which would discourage potential investment and send domestic and foreign investors to other countries with a robust, beneficial regulatory environment. In accordance with Articles 51 and 253 of the Indian Constitution, India is required to enact the necessary legislation to speed up digitization and domestic production as well as public-private partnerships and quick technical growth.
Finally, accurate laws encompassing the "space dimension" must be enacted immediately, just as we have done with the "land, air, and water dimensions," if India is to be at the forefront of a new international order that is driven by innovation and technology in addition to setting the standard for space research and development programs. Space shouldn't be limited to the interests and knowledge of science, technology, national defence, and security. It must be seen as significant for the average citizen whose existence will be improved by its tremendously positive potential.