India and Russia have a long history of successful cooperation in the field of exploration and use of space. This year in April India celebrated 40th anniversary of the start of its’s first satellite Aryabhata, which was launched by a Soviet rocket Kosmos-3M.
During past 10-15 years our countries have signed a number of important agreements on cooperation in the fields of peaceful space activity, joint space science programs and satellite navigation. In May and June 2015 Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS) have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on expansion of cooperation in the field of the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. MoU provides scope for development of joint activities in key sectors which include launch vehicle development, satellite navigation, critical technologies for human spaceflight etc. Particular cooperation proposals comprise sharing of expertise and resources, scientific exchanges and development of space systems and components.
It should be noted, that India’s space sector has gained a tremendous momentum in the past decade. Despite budget of ISRO is 3 times lesser than China or Japan spends on their space programs, Indian space agency at the moment runs an autonomous, advanced space program. India is one of a few countries in the world having developed indigenous cryogenic rocket engine; it has performed successful launches of scientific probes to Moon and Mars, and has started building of a national regional satellite navigation system.
Growing science and technology potential of Indian space industry, stable bilateral affairs between our countries, as well as positive experience of very close interaction in such sensitive areas as satellite navigation and cruise missile development create a solid basis for expanding a long-term Indian-Russian partnership in space and pushing it to a new level.
At the present stage partnership of India and Russia in space should not focus only on large programs on basis of intergovernmental or interagency agreements; our countries should actively promote cooperation on business-to-business level with public and private entities of Indian space industry sector.
The government of India has pursued continued policy on enhancing openness and investment attractiveness of national space sector. Having set a goal of creating a vibrant domestic space industry, during next years the government plans drastically increase national space infrastructure, which will demand almost double expenditures on space program and number of launches. To achieve these objectives ISRO plans a greater participation of public and private enterprises in development and producing of spacecraft as well as enhance international cooperation. Last year the door was opened to a much wider level of involvement of foreign investors in India’s defense and strategic sectors, when maximum share of FDI was raised from 26% to 49%. New initiative ‘Make in India’, where space technologies has been marked as one of priority fields, also creates new areas for development of cooperation between Indian and Russian companies.
At the moment cooperation between Indian and Russian companies on business-to-business level is steadily developing. Several Indian companies are engaged with Russian partners for investment and joint collaboration projects in space sector. For example, in 2013 Russian company JSC ISS and Swiss-Indian company AOneSat Communications AG signed a contract under which JSC ISS will built telecommunication satellite AOneSat-1.
Last Summer at Farnborough Russian private space company Dauria Aerospace and Indian telecommunication company Aniara Communications Pvt. Ltd. signed an agreement on development and producing two satellites using Dauria’s small geostationary spacebus Atom. Later during 20th India Russia Inter-Governmental Commission Meeting in November 05, 2014 the project was included as one of a priorities.