The government is likely to introduce the Commercial Space Activities Bill in the budget session. The government has said in Lok Sabha that “Steps are being taken so that the Bill could be possibly introduced during the Budget session 2019”.
Features of the 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 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.