The Indian space tech industry has come a long way from when it first started its journey in 1969 with Vikram Sarabhai launching the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
According to reports by PwC, the space industry was valued at $7 billion in 2019. This accounted for two per cent of the global space industry. Late last year, the Department of Space, Indian Government, released a draft outlining the new space policies. The draft eased the regulations related to private players in the space tech sector, opening the doors for independent space tech players to grow and thrive in the Indian ecosystem.
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Until recently, the private sector players worked in a subcontractor role with ISRO, stopping independent players from operating outside the public sector. The latest policy allows private companies or startups to establish themselves and operate satellite systems providing capacity for communication.
At Analytics India Magazine, we have curated a list of news from the Indian space tech industry that made it to the headlines in 2021.
ISRO Quantum Communication breakthrough
In March this year, ISRO announced its major milestone— of demonstrating free-space Quantum Communication over 300 metres. This news of unconditionally secured satellite data communication using quantum technologies made global headlines, with India joining the league of developed nations— UK, US, Canada, Japan and China— in making a significant contribution in the field of quantum computing.
ISRO released Chandrayaan-2 data
ISRO released Chandrayaan-2’s data at the Lunar Science Workshop in September this year.
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During the workshop, ISRO Chairman K Sivan released the data product and science documents related to Chandrayaan-2. Additionally, he also unveiled eight payloads. The following documents were made available for the public:
- Science results from the Chandrayaan-2 Mission
- Handbook of Chandrayaan-2 Payloads Data and Science
- Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter Payloads and Data Products
Backed by Bharti, OneWeb announced its association with ISRO’s commercial arm NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) to launch satellites. With this, the orbit satellite communications company became the first private player to launch satellites from India. OneWeb will be using NSIL’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-MkIII) to launch the satellites, scheduled for 2022.
OneWeb signed the non-binding Letter of Intent with NSIL at the launch of the Indian Space Association (ISpA), and it is already building its initial constellation of 648 LEO satellites.
Indian tech company responsible for building digital map data, telematics services, GIS AI technologies and location-based SaaS— MapmyIndia announced that it was joining hands with ISRO to offer indigenois mapping portal and geospatial services. This was a part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Initiative.
The main objective of the programme was to combine digital maps and their related technologies with ISRO’s satellite imagery catalogue and earth observation data in order to offer hyper-local mapping solutions. The solution is said to provide insights on population, weather, natural disasters, land use and agricultural output.
Sanjay Bhargava joins SpaceX
Business coach and evangelist Sanjay Bhargava announced in September that he would be joining Elon Musk-founded SpaceX in October. Bhargava now serves as the Starlink Country Director India. With that, SpaceX’s satellite broadband arm— Starlink, is hopeful about starting its internet services in India from this month.
In a LinkedIn post, Bhargava mentioned SpaceX’s target to have two lakh terminals active in the country this month. However, the actual numbers may vary or even be zero if it does not receive the Indian government’s approval.
Dhruva raises Rs 22 crore
Hyderabad and Austria headquartered space tech startup Dhruva raised Rs 22 crore funding in October. The funding round was led by IAN Fund and Blue Ashva Capital. The end-to-end space engineering startup is now setting up the ground to launch its Satellite-as-a-Service space-grade solar arrays and ground station solutions in India and abroad.
Dhruva was founded in 2012 and is incubated in the European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Centre in Austria.
SatSure raises investments
Bengaluru-based space tech startup SatSure raised an undisclosed amount of investment in November; the equity round was led by Baring Private Equity. SatSure builds decision insights from satellite data and mostly caters to the banking and insurance sectors. According to reports, the space tech startup plans to utilise the freshly raised funds to hire human capital, further grow its product portfolio and expand its international footprint.
Founded in 2017 by Prateep Basu, Abhishek Raju and Rashmit Singh Sukhmani, SatSure’s vision is to create a full-stack Indian space tech firm with the in-house data source, software and data engine.