Space Sector Current Affairs - 2020

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Project NETRA: ISRO Signs pact to set up optical Telescope

The Indian Space Research Organization signed a pact with Indian Institute of Astrophysics to establish an optical telescope under “Project NETRA”. The organisation also tied up with NIT-Karnataka to set up a regional academic centre for space to promote research and development.

Project NETRA

Project NETRA was launched by ISRO in September 2019. Under the Project, ISRO plans to set up observational facilities that will help in making early warnings to satellites about debris and hazards in their orbit. It includes radars, telescopes, control centres and data processing units. The aim is to make the facilities powerful enough to track even the smallest particle of 10 cm diameter up to a range of 3,400 km.

Significance

The project will help India detect threats to Indian satellites from debris. Currently, India operates 15 communication satellites, 13 remote sensing satellites and eight navigation satellites.

Need

Space debris is the biggest problem of the satellites sector. There are more than 7,500 tonnes of space debris that are circling the earth at present. These junks include screws of old rocket bodies to defunct space crafts that pose collision hazard to satellites.

NETRA of DRDO

Apart from ISRO, DRDO (Defence Research Development Organisation) operates NETRA (Network Traffic Analysis). It is a software network used to analyse internet traffic. It is used by Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and other intelligence agencies of Government of India.

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Permanent Court of Arbitration rules against Antrix Coroporation in Devas case

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands has ruled against Antrix Corporation in the case with Devas Corporation over sharing of spectrum on satellites.

A PCA tribunal has found that the Union Government’s actions in annulling a contract between Devas and Antrix Corporation Ltd.

It also found that it has denied Devas commercial use of S-band spectrum constituted an expropriation (state actions in modifying the property rights of an individual in the exercise of its sovereignty. Following the ruling, India may have to give 1 billion compensation to Devas.

What is the case?

  • In 2005, Devas Corporation and Antrix Corporation had struck a deal which had provided for the launch of two satellites allowing Devas.
  • These satellites were to establish a hybrid satellite and terrestrial communications network to supply wireless audio-visual, broadband and mobile internet service across India.
  • But later, Antrix Corporation terminated the contract citing changes in Indian policy and that the allocation of S-band Spectrum to companies unconnected with India’s space programme was now regarded as a risk to national security.
  • Devas had moved to PCA, citing Antrix had contended that the national security and force majeure issues reasons for termination of deal as “contrived excuses”.
  • It also had asked damages amounting to 1.6 billion dollars from Indian Government under the UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) Arbitration Rules.

About Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)

  • PCA is an intergovernmental organization established in 1899. It is located at The Hague in the Netherlands.
  • It is not a court in the traditional sense, but a permanent framework for arbitral tribunals constituted to resolve specific disputes.
  • PCA seeks to facilitate arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution involving various combinations of states, state entities, international organizations and private parties.
  • It was the first permanent intergovernmental organization that provided a forum for the resolution of international disputes through arbitration and other peaceful means.
  • The PCA also administers cases under the arbitration rules of the UNCITRAL.

Antrix Corporation: It is the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is an anglicised version of Antariksha, from the Sanskrit word for “space”. It functions under the aegis of Department of Space (DoS), an independent Department directly working under the Prime Minister.

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