Democratization of Outer Space : India set to back the developing World in Space20

Updated: May 26

Nikita Mulay,

Junior Research Analyst,

Internationalism Research.

Avishi Pateriya,

Research Member,

Internationalism Research.

G20 includes 20 of the World’s largest economies formed in 1999. These economies had come together in order to discuss and ensure economic and financial stability across the world. In the recent G20 summit the Saudi Secretariat and the Saudi Space Commission indicated a strong interest in establishing a governance model for a dedicated Space20 with a working group. The proposition was such that the space sector would become a stable component of the G20 working group and institutional architecture in future Presidencies and further indicated the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) shall act as an implementer of the Space20 Working Group once it is established.[1] Space20 is, therefore, a sub-forum of the G20 initiated by Saudi Arabia with the support of UNOOSA.

The need for such collaboration has arisen due to the lack of global consensus with regards to the space economy. The developed economies are set to prove their prominence when it comes to outer space. It has become the modus operandi among the nations to prove their superiority and technological advancement. Space is the future and all the countries are set to achieve early movers advantage when it comes to commercialization of outer space. The recent private venture ‘SpaceX’ led by Elon Musk is known to us all. In developed countries, the innovation for Space research has been opened up for private individuals. One of the reasons that can be understood is the capital intensive nature of the space industry that is requiring exorbitant investment in R & D. Most of the developing countries, therefore, are unable to develop their space technology and are unable to establish their space industry. This particular issue may be resolved by the introduction of the Space20 initiative. There is a tremendous potential for growth in the space economy. One can easily foresee the commercialization of outer space to be the new normal.

UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo said: "This is a historic development for the G20, recognising the rising importance of space for the quality of our lives on Earth and for the future of humanity. Global leaders, especially those with the most advanced space agencies, have a responsibility to share tools, data and know-how to ensure the benefits of space are maximised and accessible to all. UNOOSA stands ready to support the G20 in driving these aspirations forward.”

While countries individually are set to achieve great heights in the field of outer space much work can be done if there is a pool of knowledge and resources while looking into the development of outer space. This will also help developing economies to participate in developing technologies to build a stronger space industry. This is why the proposal for the Space20 to become a part of the working group is put forth in the G20.

India’s new space policy by the government in the space sector which is, privatization of the Space Economy. That is India too shall open up its space sector to the private players. India’s introduction of outer space privatization is a step in the right direction which may play a crucial role in this regard by increasing the number of research development organizations and ultimately more scope for innovation. Also, since the private players may receive high incentives it may therefore lead to improved costs and quality for research and development.

Space is an extremely capital intensive industry; the opening of the same for the private players could be a sign of cash influx in the economy ultimately leading to benefits in the innovation-driven development. The bright minds will find better opportunities in order to develop space technology ultimately leading to the development of the space economy thereby benefiting the country as well as the world.

Why India can lead the Space20 effectively

India is set to assume presidency over the G20 due to which India will be in a position through which it can effectively put forth and implement plans regarding the democratization of outer space making it accessible to other developing countries. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been known to launch the most cost-effective mission to Mars which was Mission Mangal. Mission Mangal was completed at a cost of 75 billion dollars. India is a developing economy however has managed to compete with the developed economies with regards to their space economies. In S