Centre to introduce Commercial Space Activities Bill

Why in News?

  • The Centre is likely to introduce a Bill to commercialise space activities in the budget session this year.

Space Activities Bill 2017:

  • It is a proposed Bill to promote and regulate the space activities of India.
  • The Bill aims to facilitate the overall growth of space activities in India with higher order participation of public, non-governmental and private sector stakeholders.
  • The Bill encourages the participation of non-governmental/private sector agencies in space activities in India under the guidance and authorisation of the government through the Department of Space.
  • As few start-ups in India have shown interest in space activities there is an urgent need for a legal environment for orderly performance and growth of space sector.
  • It will help the Centre establish a regulatory mechanism through an appropriate body to authorize and license space activities.

Provisions of the Bill:

  • The provisions of this Act shall apply to every citizen of India and to all sectors engaged in any space activity in India or outside India
  • A non-transferable licence shall be provided by the Central Government to any person carrying out commercial space activity
  • The Central Government will formulate the appropriate mechanism for licencing, eligibility criteria, and fees for licence.
  • The government will maintain a register of all space objects (any object launched or intended to be launched around the earth) and develop more space activity plans for the country
  • It will provide professional and technical support for commercial space activity and regulate the procedures for conduct and operation of space activity
  • It will 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 a space activity. It will share details about the pricing of products created by space activity and technology with any person or any agency in a prescribed manner.
  • If any person undertakes any commercial space activity without authorisation they shall be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years or fined more than ₹1 crore or both.

Issues with the Bill:

  • The Bill does not address space-based activities separately.
  • Instead, it tries to cover large swaths of the space value chain in one go.
  • In fact, the very definition of “space activity” could throw up complications.
  • The definition puts every space object under its ambit, meaning even hardware that carries GPS receivers could require a license.
  • The Bill could also affect navigation services provided by companies such as Google Maps, Ola and Uber.
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