- Space Activities Bill, 2017
- The Space Activities Bill, 2017 is aimed at regulating space activities to ensure peaceful exploration and use of outer space.
- The draft of the country’s first Space Law, stipulates licences for all space-related players and activities.
- The draft also sets out penalties of ₹1 crore and above and jail terms for violations.
- The proposed bill, also seeks to keep the government out of any liability arising out of harm that these commercial activities may cause — to people, environment, other countries or outer space.
- The draft Bill defines objects, people and geography that will come under the future law.
- The Centre will keep a registry of all space objects.
New body proposed
- All persons or entities engaged in space will now need a licence
- The government will form a new authorised body for the purpose of issuing license.
- So far, the national space agency Indian Space Research Organisation’s major works have related to satellites, launchers and applications. These were governed by the Satellite Communication Policy, 2000; the Remote Sensing Data Policy, 2011; and international treaty obligations on outer space activities as mandated by the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space or UNCOPUOS.
Why such a law is needed?
- Increasing applications of Space-based solutions have meant an increased participation of private sector industry and startups.
- Commercial opportunities in space activities and services, nationally and internationally, demand a higher order of participation by private sector agencies. This situation demands a necessary legal environment for orderly performance and growth of space sector.
The important features of the bill are:
- The bill provides for a non-transferable licence to be provided by the Central Government to any person carrying out commercial space activity.
- The bill empowers the Central Government to formulate the appropriate mechanism for licencing, eligibility criteria, and fees for the licence.
- The Central Government would be required to maintain a register of all space objects (any object launched or intended to be launched around the earth) and develop space activity plans for the country.
- The Central Government would ensure safety requirements and supervise the conduct of every space activity of India and investigate any incident or accident in connection with the operation of space activity.
- The Central Government would share details about the pricing of products created by space activity and technology with any person or any agency in a prescribed manner.
- The bill provides for penal provisions if any person undertakes any commercial space activity without authorisation they shall be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years or fined more than Rs 1 crore or both.
- The bill requires licensed entities to carry out operations in a manner that prevents the contamination of outer space or damage to the earth’s environment.
Shortfalls of the Bill
The criticisms against the bill are:
- The bill falls short in addressing the space-based activities separately.
- The bill tries to cover large swaths of the space value chain in one go. This would make the regulatory environment clumsy.
- The definition of space activity is ambiguous. The current definition puts every space object under its ambit; even hardware that carries GPS receivers could require a license.
- The bill will adversely affect the navigation services provided by companies such as Google Maps, Ola and Uber.
The bill had received responses from the public, Indian aerospace industry, related start-ups, space law experts, scholars, satcom companies and scientists. The government is in the process to address the concerns expressed by the stakeholders.