28 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – APRIL 2024 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM The Indian government’s conscious push towards a self-sustaining economy is centred on a focus on identifying key global growth markets in the next decade and building manufacturing, know-how and technology capabilities to bring them to its shores. Satellites and space, an otherwise languishing sector, fell perfectly in the cross-section of all these requirements. As the private space sector begins to take shape, the legal market is grappling with new regulations, investment risk mitigation strategies, and technology and intellectual property laws to attract India’s space startups and foreign investors as they build out space law practice groups. The Modi-led central government has put in place a roadmap to put India on the path to space superiority. In 2020, the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) was established to handhold startups in the sector and serve as a single-window clearance agency to authorise space activities undertaken by the government and private players. The Indian Space Policy, approved in 2023, aims to provide regulatory clarity for promoters and investors. This was supported by India’s premier space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) drive to build homegrown space technology. In August 2023, the Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission made India only the fourth space-faring nation to land a spacecraft on the moon, and the first to do it on its unchartered South Pole. The recently launched solar mission Aditya L1 is also a -first-of-its-kind and has put India in a league of its own when it comes to space-faring nations. In the last four years, the number of domestic startups has increased from 10 to around 200 and has received funding of around $250 million, valuing India’s space economy at around $8.4 billion. While this growth is significant, it is mere 2 percent of the global market. IN-SPACe aims to bring this to $44 billion by 2033. The largest barrier to growth today is a lack of private funding stemming due to small domestic funding markets and global caution from foreign investment barriers. To address this problem, the government announced up of the space sector, to 100 percent in some cases, inviting the world’s top spacetech companies and investors to build Indian portfolios and fuel growth in the market. The policy ensures 100 percent FDI in the manufacturing of components and systems or sub-systems for satellites, ground segments, and user segments. Secondly, 74 percent has been permitted for satellite manufacturing and operation, satellite data products, and ground segments and user segments. The policy also allows 49 percent FDI for the development of launch vehicles and associated systems, and the creation of spaceports for launching and receiving spacecraft. PREPARING FOR INVESTORS The liberalisation of the market is bringing more opportunities for law firms as they gain regulatory clarity and prepare a nascent domestic market for foreign investment. SPACE LAW FINAL FRONTIER Government-led efforts to improve regulatory and financial barriers in India’s space sector are rapidly creating an important new market for the country’s law firms, which are looking at increased work for their M&A, private capital investment, project finance, intellectual property and technology lawyers. BY NIMITT DIXIT Image: NicoElNino/