Union Budget 2019: New space PSU likely to replace Antrix Corporation

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that a new public sector enterprise in the space sector, called New Space India Limited (NSIL), had been incorporated. This Finance Minister said NSIL would function as the commercial arm of the India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and would tap the benefits of research and development carried out by the space agency.

The new entity would be responsible for the marketing space products, transfers of technology, and arranging commercial space launches with ISRO.

These functions are currently performed by Antrix Corporation, a fully-owned government company that functions under the administrative control of the Department of Space. Though the Finance Minister did not mention it, the new entity, New Space India Limited, is likely to replace Antrix Corporation and not be an additional entity.

Antrix Corporation has earlier come under trouble due to its strongly overlapping management structure with ISRO.

The Indian space station, when fully established, will provide a research platform unmatched on this planet, the government said, asserting its expected benefits are likely in the areas of human health, disaster relief, and food and water conservation.

In a written response to a question in Lok Sabha, MoS in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh said a space station is an integral element of the human spaceflight program as it allows the sustained human presence in space to carry out meaningful research.

He, however, said the program is still at a nascent stage. India’s plan of a space station is a long-term plan after the successful operationalization of Gaganyaan. 

India aims to launch Gaganyaan, its manned mission to space, by 2022. Last month, Indian Space Research Organisation chairman K Sivan announced at a press conference India’s plan to have its own space station. The Indian space station design will be modular with initial modules weighing nearly 20 tonnes. It will have a provision for an extended stay for three crew members.

Singh said the Indian space station will provide a research platform that cannot be matched on Earth. The expected benefits are likely in the areas of human health, telemedicine, vaccine development, material development, disaster relief, efficient farming techniques, food and water conservation, waste management techniques, environment research, and education programs that inspire the youth.

The current space platform is the International Space Station orbiting at an altitude of 400 km. It is operated by five space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), CSA (Canada), JAXA (Japan), and ESA (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK).

In a separate question, Singh said the sanctioned cost of Chandrayaan-2 and Aditya-L1 is Rs 603 crore and Rs 378.53 crore, respectively.

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