IN-SPACe READIES THE MILLENIUM FALCON - Releases Norms, Guidelines And Procedures For The Space Sector



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In a series of announcements by the Government of India ("GoI") since the beginning of 2024 to develop the Indian space sector...
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In a series of announcements by the Government of India ("GoI") since the beginning of 2024 to develop the Indian space sector, 1 the most recent (and critical) one is the release of the Norms, Guidelines and Procedures for Implementation of Indian Space Policy-2023 on May 03, 2024 ("NGP"). The NGP describes a list of space activities which require an authorization from the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre ("IN-SPACe") and Department of Space ("DOS") and lays down the applicable guidelines and technical requirements to carry out space activities.

Post the recent amendments to the Indian Foreign Direct Investment ("FDI") policy liberalising entry routes for FDI in space activities (Missed these developments? Catch up here and here), the publication of the NGP marks a significant step towards cementing GoI's efforts in boosting the private sector participation.


The NGP is designed to govern space activities carried out by Indian Entities2 from the Indian Territory3. The scope of the NGP extends to, inter alia (i) space activities which require IN-SPACe authorization; (ii) criteria for granting authorization, (iii) timelines, conducts and guidelines to be adhered to for obtaining the IN-SPACe authorization and (iv) the regulatory framework based on the principles enshrined in the Indian Space Policy, 2023 ("ISP-2023") for any private player embarking on space activities.

The NGP also takes into consideration the existing obligations of GoI, under various international space treaties and agreements,4 thereby creating a regulatory framework for Indian Entities intending to carry out safe and reliable space activities from India.


a. What is a space activity?

The NGP defines, "Space Activity" as an activity pertaining to the space sector and includes, inter-alia, launch, operation, guidance and/or re-entry of any Space Object(s)5 from outer space. As per the NGP, any space activity outlined in Section 5 of the ISP-2023 shall require a prior authorization.

Broadly, space activities which require IN-SPACe authorization have been classified as follows:

  1. Establishment and operation of Space Objects entailing, inter alia, space-based communication services, establishment and operation of satellites for remote sensing and amateur satellite systems, hosted payloads and establishment and operation of other Space Objects;
  2. Operations of space transportation systems including undertaking sub-orbital or orbital launches from India or outside India and setting up a launch facility;
  3. Planned re-entry of Space Objects;
  4. Establishment and/or operation of ground systems;
  5. Dissemination of space-based Earth observation and remote sensing data; and (vi) Sale/purchase/transfer of Space Objects in-orbit.

b. Eligible persons to obtain authorization

As per the NGP, only an Indian Entity is permitted to apply to IN-SPACe for authorization to carry out space activities within India. A Non-Indian Entity can apply to IN-SPACe only through an Indian Entity which could either be its Indian subsidiary, joint venture or through any other collaboration arrangement that is recognised by the GoI.

However, the NGP in some cases also permits an authorized representative/dealer of Non-Indian Entities to apply for an authorization for certain space activities, viz. authorization of non-Indian geostationary orbit and/or non-geo-stationary orbit satellite/constellation to enable provisioning of its capacity in India for communication services, or dissemination of remote sensing data, etc.


The application process for seeking an authorization is fairly straight-forward. First, the applicants are required to submit their application on the IN-SPACe Digital Platform ("IDP") and a preliminary assessment is undertaken based on the credentials and the capability of the applicant. IN-SPACe will scrutinise the applications as per its internally defined mechanisms based on safety, national security, compliance with national and international regulatory guidelines, etc. Thereafter, in certain cases a provisional authorization is issued by IN-SPACe, to enable the applicant to initiate the approval/license processes with other relevant ministries. Upon completing the internal approval process, IN-SPACe will issue its final authorization or rejection. In the event of a rejection, the applicant is permitted to submit a revised application along with suitable modifications to IN-SPACe

As per the NGP, the timeline envisaged to complete the authorization process is approximately 75 (seventy five) to 120 (one hundred and twenty) days. Accordingly, the DoS advises an applicant to initiate the process at least 6 (six) months in advance from the commencement of the proposed space activity.

Currently, non-Indian satellites provision their capacity in India either through lease agreements involving NewSpace India Limited or Antrix Corporation Limited or by directly leasing C-Band capacity from non-Indian satellite operators. With effect from April 01, 2025, regardless of the term of these arrangements, they will cease to be valid, and the non-Indian satellites will also require IN-SPACe authorization to operate in India.

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1. Cabinet's liberalization of the FDI policy for the space sector in February, 2024, followed by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade ("DPIIT") release of Press Note 1 of 2024, amending the FDI policy on space sector in March, 2024, and the latest notification, amending the Foreign Exchange Management (Non-Debt Instruments) Rules, 2019 ("NDI Rules") to revise the sectoral caps applicable to various space sector activities, in April, 2024 ("NDI Amendment").

2. As per the NGP, an "Indian Entity" includes an Indian Government Entity and Indian Non-Government Entity. A "NonGovernment Entity" ("NGE") is defined as (i) a company incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013 or (ii) a partnership firm established under the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008, (iii) a trust under the Indian Trusts Act, 1882, (iv) an association of persons or body of individuals incorporated under relevant statutes in India.

3. As per the NGP, Indian Territory means territory within the jurisdiction of India including the area to the limit of Indian exclusive economic zone.

4. The GoI is a signatory to various international agreements, including the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (1967), the Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (1968), the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (1974), The Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space (1972), the Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (1979) and the Artemis Accords (2023).

5. As per the NGP, a "Space Object" means (i) any object launched or intended to be launched into an orbital or sub-orbital trajectory around the earth or to a destination beyond earth orbit; (ii) any constituent element of an object referred to in subclause (i), or (iii) any other object as may be notified from time to time.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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