India Posts Draft Space Law for Public Comment

The Indian government has promulgated a draft space law designed to provide an overall framework for the nation’s space activities and to encourage commercial space development.

“There is a need for national space legislation for supporting the overall growth of the space activities in India,” the central government said in a statement accompanying the draft law. “This would encourage enhanced participation of non-governmental/private sector agencies in space activities in India, in compliance with international treaty obligations, which is becoming very relevant today.”

The draft law, posted on the ISRO website for a 30-day public comment period, would require the Department of Space to develop a space activity plan for the “comprehensive development of space sector and ground segments of space infrastructure and technologies for commercial and economic needs of the country.”

The government would also grant licenses to private companies and organizations for space activities. The measure calls for the government to “provide every professional and technical support and authorisation to launch or operate space object.”

“A licence under sub-section (1) may be granted where the space activity: (a) does not jeopardise public health or the safety of individuals or property; (b) is consistent with the international obligations of India; and (c) does not compromise the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of State, defence of India, friendly relation with foreign States, public order, decency or morality,” the proposed legislation states.

The licenses would grant “unconditional permission to the Central Government for inspection of any space activity and the material used for the activity either in the premises of the applicant or at any other place of its manufacturing or assembling.”

Further, the licenses would allow for the “testing and examination of the licensee’s facilities, and
inspection and testing of the licensee’s equipment by the Central Government or any other agency authorised by it.”

The measure provides protections for intellectual property (IP) rights, but it appears to reserve for the government the rights to any IP created onboard a space object.

“Any invention or other form of intellectual property rights such as patents, copyrights, trademarks or such other rights, developed, generated or created during the course of any space activity shall be protected under any law for the time being in force, with the primary objective of safeguarding the national interest,” the measure states.

“Any form of intellectual property right developed, generated or created onboard a space object in outer space, shall be deemed to be the property of the Central Government,” the legislation adds.

The proposed bill also gives the national government broad control over space assets in a national emergency.

“The Central Government, may, in the case of emergency arising out of war, external aggression, natural calamity or such other eventuality as it may deem necessary, take over the management,
control or supervision of any space object registered in pursuance of this Act or any installation relating to the space object for such period as it may deem fit,” the draft law reads.

  • It’s gonna get crowded up there.

  • Valerij Gilinskij

    What does this draft law say about the right to commercial extraction of resources from asteroids and other planets?