Beyond Delhi: Australia-India Collaboration in Space: Opportunities in Telangana

The Indian state of Telangana is a landlocked state in the south of India. Telangana is surrounded by Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh in the North, Karnataka in the West and Andhra Pradesh in the South and East directions.

The Telangana state government is aiming to become a one-stop destination in the space-tech sector by becoming an end-to-end manufacturing hub from design to testing as well as launch activities. Hyderabad, the capital city of Telangana, is home to many renowned private startups and major public sector companies in the SpaceTech sector. 

The Central Indian Government’s focus on the state comes on the back of the central government leading reforms to allow the sharing of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) facilities with private players. Australian private sector space players have watched closely as Telangana positions itself as a globally recognised one-stop destination in space technology.

Bilateral relations in space have been buoyed by the signing of an MOU between the Australian Space Agency and the ISRO in 2021, opening up opportunities for Australian organisations to work closely with Indian entities.
On 23rd February 2022 we discussed Australia-India space cooperation and how a state specific focus can revitalise relations.

About Sarah Kirlew

Ms Sarah Kirlew is Australia’s Consul General to South India based in Chennai. She is responsible for strengthening bilateral relations and trade and investment ties between Australia and India in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana as well as the Union Territories of the Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Puducherry. She was appointed to the role in January 2021.

Ms Kirlew is an experienced career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Posted to headquarters in Canberra from 2017-2020, Ms Kirlew worked on a range of policy issues relating to Australia’s Indo-Pacific policy, including as Acting Assistant Secretary of the United States and Canada Branch, Director of the Indo-Pacific Strategy and Geoeconomics section, and Director of the ASEAN and Regional Programs Section, to foster an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region at a time of rapid strategic change. She also provided strategic advice on the transformation of Australia’s development program to address the health security, stability and economic recovery challenges of COVID-19.

Ms Kirlew has significant background on Australia-India relations. She was previously posted in New Delhi from 2008-2011 as Second Secretary (Political) at the Australian High Commission and led policy teams looking at the economic and political relationship with India in Canberra. She has also served overseas in Cairo and Beijing, the latter as Counsellor (Economic – G20).

Ms Kirlew holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communications/International Relations from the University of Sydney and a Masters of Public Policy and Management from the University of London, SOAS. She is a committed advocate for Women in Leadership.

About Dr Dhandapani Gowrisankar

Dr Dhandapani Gowrisankar is the Director of the Office of International and Interagency Relations at the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) headquarters in Bangalore. 

In this capacity, he interacts with other nations’ space agencies, and multilateral bodies’ missions in India and abroad, to pursue bilateral and multilateral space cooperation. 

He first joined the ISRO in February 1999, and worked on various projects related to remote sensing applications for agriculture and soils. He has been coordinating the ISRO’s international cooperations since Februrary 2009.

Dr Gowrisankar has a Doctorate in Soil Science, which he earned at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi in 1998.

He has more than 20 publications to his name in national and international journals – mainly on agriculture, soil science and natural resources management.

About Renae Sayers

Renae’s leadership with the Space Science and Technology Centre (SSTC) at Curtin University straddles the intersection of academia and meaningful real-world engagement, supporting a team embodying the passion, the creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit to apply their disciplinary expertise in entirely new ways.

Through Renae’s initiatives, she translates the power of planetary research to the public, industry partnerships and policymakers alike, making accessible the inspiration and innovations of space that better our communities today.

As a science communication expert, Renae’s unique experience all started with an email to NASA as a 16-year-old that kick-started her journey through a degree in Astrophysics and onward to a career in STEM engagement across the globe.

Now, 20 years later, Renae’s leadership extends to SSTC’s Binar Space Program where she continues to forge novel partnerships, creative collaborations and ultimately empowers people to see STEM in a new light. This includes Renae’s acumen as founding partner for the Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth (AROSE), supporting the alignment of Fugro Australian Space Automation AI and Robotics Control Complex (SpAARC) and emboldening outreach to connect hands-on space technology experiences with students.

Believing deeply that partnerships are the key to prosperity, Renae is a Young Leader Program Manager for the Australian American Leadership Dialogue. Through her advocacy for Women in STEM and collaboration with NASA, Renae was selected by the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program for 2018, advancing global goals of empowerment for women leaders, planetary science and outreach.

As a strategic operator with front line tactical engagement experience, Renae draws her intense passion, adaptability and cognitive diversity from collaborating with science centres, universities, festival organisations, creative agencies and local communities in the US, UK, Japan, Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Singapore and across Australia. She’s performed explosive science shows to audiences around the world; delivered presentations at TEDxPerth, the Australian Academy of Science, West Tech Fest and Global Health Conference; has a weekly segment on ABC radio; brought professors into the pub (and to Fringe World) and connects scientists and students together to see the world in a different light.

About Sonia Arakkal

Sonia Arakkal is a Policy Fellow at the Perth USAsia Centre. In addition to planning and coordinating a range of program and research initiatives, Sonia directs the Centre’s India programs and convenes policy workshops focussed on Australia-India relations. Sonia was previously a political staffer for state and federal parliamentarians. In these roles she provided strategic advice to politicians on state and national level policy priorities, maintained and managed relationships with multinational business, peak body and academic stakeholders and formed a sophisticated understanding of parliamentary processes in Canberra. Prior to this Sonia was a Management Consultant in Nous Group’s public policy practice in both Melbourne and Perth. There she led complex research, analysis and policy development projects for government clients across Australia. She also has experience in lobbying having worked at Hawker Britton as an analyst, providing strategic government relations briefs for corporate clients on financial policy, regulatory reform and cross-jurisdictional analysis of economic policy. Sonia’s opinion pieces have been published in The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and online. She offers commentary in the media, most recently on ABC Radio National and ABC’s The Drum. Sonia has a degree in law and international relations with honours from the Australian National University.

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