NEW DELHI - Investments in private space sector startups in India have crossed one billion rupees (US$12 million) in the first nine months of the current financial year, Dr. Jitendra Singh, Indian Minister for Space, Science, Technology and Atomic Energy, said on Tuesday.

India’s financial year begins on 1st April every year and ends on 31st March. Therefore, the nine-month period covered by these investments is counted from 1st April to 31st December 2023.

India now has 200 private sector startups in the space industry, compared to a handful five years ago, Dr. Singh said after inaugurating a Technical Centre of IN-SPACe in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad.

The abbreviation, IN-SPACe, stands for the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre, which has been created by the government for supporting private sector participation in space activities.

“India has so far earned $174 million from launching 424 foreign satellites,” the Minister said. “This means, the scale has gone up, the speed has gone up and, therefore, there is a huge jump that has been achieved.”

These announcements came on a day when India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry formally notified a liberalised foreign direct investment policy for the space sector.

In February, India’s federal cabinet announced that foreign countries and overseas entities are now allowed to make 100 percent direct investments in the manufacture of components, systems, or sub-systems for satellites in India without any official approval.

Yesterday’s notification by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry means the cabinet decision has come into effect.

Dr. Singh said space technology is now affecting the common man’s life, with its applications in disaster management, railway operations, creation and management of smart cities, agriculture, water mapping, tele-medicine and robotic surgery.