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Forming syndicate key to risk management for space ventures

An unrelated photo of Virgin Galactic Spaceship 2

BANGALORE (BNS): The space sector is turning into a multimillion dollar business with the commercialisation of space but the execution risks are high so interested parties must join hands and find ways for risk mitigation, experts said Friday.

A panel of experts presented their papers to highlight the issue during a seminar on “Risk management for space ventures,” held at the Bengaluru Space Expo here.

The advancements made in services and space applications in the last 50 years have made a vast difference in the space sector turning it into a lucrative business. The time is now ripe to share the risk and returns with other stakeholders who wish to enter space business including venture capital, insurance companies and individuals, they said.

“The emergence of space tourism with access to space for private individuals in the launch sector, like Spaceship I and Spaceship II - currently under development, is catering to a select group of people with the spirit of adventure. Service providers must now worry about the liability and risk involved,” said session Chairman Dr S Ramkrishnan, Director Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, ISRO.

Risk elements involved in the space sector are related to technological, industrial, commercial, financial, legal and in particular insurance, according to the experts. Risk could occur during transportation of the payload, damage to or destruction of the satellite, payload malfunction, launch failure to mention a few.

Dwelling on risk mitigation, Dr Ramkrishnan said the United States has recommended change in the International space policy to hand over space transportation to the private sector. The service life of a product could be insured he said, referring to the technology being develop for India’s human space flight programme.

Tim Wakeman, Executive Vice President, International Space Brokers (ISB) also said insurance is a key component of risk management with huge amount of money involved in the space sector. However, “No one is big enough to take on the risk so a syndicate must be formed to take on the insurance in terms of customer coverage,” he said.

On the other hand, the risk of collision is growing in LEO and the problem of space debris being the top risk management issue at the moment satellite operators need to implement collision avoidance measures, he said.

Other speakers of the panel include S K Shivkumar, Director, ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network, RN Aggarwal, President, ITU-APT, Foundation of India, Adam Sturmer, Vice President Marsh Space Projects and Olivier Coste, CEO, Coste and Partners, USA.


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