The Need for a National Space Security Policy


The National Space Security Policy is important because it will redefine India’s approach to peaceful space use with clear security considerations. It will also help to improve India’s defense space preparedness, which will require a stronger space security policy that includes defense space strategy and stronger doctrine.

On the 2nd day of Indian DefSpace Symposium, Gp Capt. Ajey Lele (Retd), DDG, IDSA moderated the first session on National Space Security Policy highlighting the need for a National Space Security Policy and how Dual-use technologies in space security policy can be used for both military and civilian purposes.

With increasing reliance on space-based technologies like GPS and communication, ensuring the security of these assets becomes paramount.

The panel began with a historical note, highlighting the launch of Sputnik in 1957 and the subsequent concerns it raised regarding the potential militarization of space. This historical context emphasizes the long-standing need for international cooperation to ensure peaceful exploration.

Dr Ranjana Kaul, Partner, Dua Associates emphasizes this by pointing out space, “Space is all about geopolitics. Therefore, a robust space security policy consists of both the security of both physical assets in space and the data flowing through them.”

She stressed on the Article IV of the Outer Space Treaty that prohibits states from placing nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in orbit around the Earth, on celestial bodies, or in outer space.

Collaboration from Space Security Policy Stakeholders

Achieving this security requires collaboration from various stakeholders. The roles of national leadership, security agencies, armed forces, and a skilled workforce. International cooperation is also crucial, as highlighted by the need for deterrence, resilience, and the ability to respond to threats.

AVM DV Khot (Retd), Principal Consultant, IN-SPACe emphasized on three points. He said, “Space Security needs three things, Ability to deter, Ability to survive (resilience) and Ability to respond. Space enables Cyber, and cyber enables the rest.”

ISRO plays a vital role in this endeavor. ISRO is central to the formulation and implementation of India’s space security policy. ISRO’s efforts often have implications for national security, including satellite-based communication, navigation, and surveillance systems. Securing these systems against cyber threats is critical for ISRO’s operational success and safeguarding the nation’s security interests.

Dr Sudheer Kumar N, Director CBPO, ISRO emphasizes saying, “ISRO is taking a big brother role and a proactive approach in establishing guidelines (SOPs) and capacity building within the space industry. This ensures a skilled workforce can manage and protect critical space infrastructure. We have to make the next level documents, SOP’s and encourage capacity building that should benefit the citizens.”

Role of Geospatial

Geospatial technology is important for national security because it can help policymakers make informed decisions by providing data about the Earth’s surface. Geospatial technology can help with monitoring systems, analysis time and resources location.

Space situational awareness (SSA) is the knowledge of the space environment, including the location and function of space objects, and space weather. This is enabled using Geospatial technology using tools like GIS (Geographic Information System), GPS (Global Positioning System), and Remote Sensing.

Lieutenant General (Dr.) A.K.S. Chandele highlights the significance saying, “Geospatial technologies in space security play a crucial role in Space Situational Awareness (SSA), which involves tracking and monitoring objects in space. By differentiating operational satellites from potential threats, SSA safeguards our space assets.”

National security also involves ensuring space technologies are not misused. Here importance of export controls and verifying end users for dual-use technologies comes into play. This helps prevent the proliferation of technology that could potentially be used for malicious purposes.

National Space Security Policy is a complex but essential undertaking with a need for innovation and collaboration with initiatives like IDEX (The Innovations for Defence Excellence) initiative that launched in April 2018 to promote innovation and technology development in defense and aerospace, and to achieve self-reliance. These ensure a secure and prosperous future for the country in the space domain.

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