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As ISRO basks in the massive success of Chandrayaan-3 and Aditya-L1, the spotlight also turns to 140 homegrown space tech startups that have quietly emerged as key players. In 2022, India marked its space milestones, including Skyroot’s inaugural private rocket launch and multiple satellite deployments, garnering global attention.
These achievements are bolstered by the government’s trust and support for domestic private space tech firms, through funding, technology access, and infrastructure assistance. In a significant move, the GST Council introduced a 0% GST regime for space tech startups in July, fostering growth in this burgeoning sector.
India’s space tech landscape saw remarkable growth, with approximately $205 million raised in funding across 30+ deals between 2014 and July 2023. Moreover, a December 2022 study by IBEF revealed that India accounted for 2.6% of the global space economy in 2020, contributing $9.6 billion.
As India ventures closer to uncovering the mysteries of space, it’s worth exploring the 10 Indian space tech startups poised to shape the future of this burgeoning sector in the country’s growth narrative.
Pixxel, a space technology startup founded in 2019 by Awais Ahmed and Kshitij Khandelwal during their time at BITS Pilani, focuses on developing high-resolution Earth observation satellites. Equipped with hyperspectral sensors, Pixxel’s satellites collect diverse wavelength data about Earth’s surface, enabling monitoring of critical factors like crop health, deforestation, and water quality.
Pixxel launched its first hyperspectral imaging satellite ‘Shakuntala’. The satellite transmits essential data concerning climate change assessments, including information on deforestation, ice cap melting, gas leaks, and crop health. The startup has secured over $36 million in funding from investors including Google, Omnivore VC, and Radical Ventures. They’ve also created a user-friendly software platform for data visualisation and analysis and have published research papers on the versatile applications of hyperspectral data.
Skyroot Aerospace is an Indian private aerospace manufacturer and commercial launch service provider headquartered in Hyderabad, Telangana. The company was founded in July 2018 by former engineers and scientists from ISRO.
The company’s mission is to “open space for all” by developing affordable and reliable launch vehicles for small satellites. Skyroot is developing a series of launch vehicles called the Vikram series, which will be used to launch satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) and sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).
The first launch vehicle in the Vikram series, the Vikram-1, is scheduled to be launched soon. Vikram-1 will be a three-stage solid-propellant launch vehicle with a payload capacity of 500 kilograms. Skyroot has also developed a cryogenic engine, which is currently undergoing testing. The company has raised over $51 million in funding to date.
Dhruva Space Private Limited is an Indian private aerospace manufacturer headquartered in Hyderabad, Telangana. Founded in 2012 by Sanjay Srikanth Nekkanti, the company is engaged in the development of small satellites in the commercial, governmental and academic markets. It provides full-stack space-engineering solutions across launch, space and ground segments – namely, the building, launching and operation of satellites.
Dhruva Space offers a range of satellite platforms, from small CubeSats to larger microsatellites. The platforms are designed to be modular and adaptable, so they can be customised to meet the specific needs of each customer.
Agnikul Cosmos is an Indian private space launch vehicle startup company headquartered in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. It was founded in 2017 by Srinath Ravichandran and Moin SPM. The company is developing a small, fully 3D-printed rocket designed to launch small satellites into low Earth orbit.
In 2022, the company successfully test-fired its first 3D-printed rocket engine. They inaugurated India’s first-ever launchpad designed and operated by a private player in 2022. The company has raised a total of $34.8 in funding.
Bellatrix Aerospace is an Indian private aerospace manufacturer headquartered in Bangalore, Karnataka. It was founded in 2015 by Rohan M Ganapathy and Yashas Karanam. The company is developing a small satellite launch vehicle called the Chetak, which is designed to launch small satellites into low Earth orbit.
The startup has developed four different types of thrusters which are one of a kind. They hold the global patent for these thrusters and have received an order from Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The company has a total of $11.3 million in funding. In June 2023, they signed a contract with the Government of Karnataka to set up a $76 million factory in Bangalore which will focus on environmentally friendly propulsion technologies for small satellites.
Astrome Technologies, a deeptech startup founded in 2018 by Neha Satak and Prasad HL, accelerates 5G and rural telecommunication infrastructure deployment using patented millimetre-wave E-band radios and satellite communication products.
Astrome’s products find application in 5G backhaul, rural connectivity, and satellite communication. They facilitate 5G base station internet connectivity in rural areas, bridging the digital divide, and supporting satellite-based services such as weather forecasting and disaster management. The company has secured over $10 million in funding from investors like Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital India, with headquarters in Bengaluru, India, and international offices.
Aadyah Aerospace, founded in 2016 by Shaju Stephen and headquartered in Bengaluru, specialises in aeronautics, space, and defence engineering and technology solutions. This startup is dedicated to integrating AI to transform computer vision, communication, and motion control.
Operating within both the space and aerospace sectors, Aadyah Aerospace focuses on self-designed satellites, launch vehicle subsystems, and drones. The startup’s primary emphasis is on the production of advanced electro-mechanical actuators, control actuation systems, and electro-optic systems for missiles and launch vehicles. Notably, they have successfully developed a cube set dispenser designed to securely hold satellites in position during launches until their deployment into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
Within a year of its establishment, Aadyah Aerospace secured nearly $6.12 million in funding from the US-based Keiretsu Forum.
Vasundhara Geo Technologies
The company was established in 2017 by Aditya Tekale, focuses on data mining. The startup specialises in acquiring and analysing data from satellites, aerial platforms, and field sensors. Using proprietary deep learning algorithms, Vasundharaa efficiently handles extensive and intricate datasets, providing rapid and insightful outcomes.
The company comprises a team of data analysts, software developers, geologists, and business professionals who have completed over 75 projects across various sectors, including agriculture, environment, defence, disaster management, and urban development. Vasundhara Geo Technologies effectively caters to the specific needs of its clients.
SatSure, established in 2017 by Prateep Basu, Rashmit Singh Sukhmani, and Abhishek Raju, operates from Bengaluru as a space tech startup. It utilises satellite data to provide ‘decision intelligence’ services, primarily serving the BFSI, agriculture, and infrastructure sectors.
The startup emphasises making space data easily accessible to all users and offers a SaaS product that enables financial institutions to extend on-demand credit to farmers. In a significant development, SatSure secured investments from banking giants ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and HDFC as part of its $20 million funding round this year. The company plans to utilise these funds to establish a fleet of four high-resolution data-producing satellites by 2024.
Founded in 2018, Bengaluru-based startup Digantara focuses on sustainable space practices and space debris detection. Anirudh Sharma, Rahul Rawat, and Tanveer Ahmed founded it with the goal of creating an Indian ecosystem for small satellites. They recently launched the Pushan-Alpha satellite for space weather testing. Digantara is also working on a Space Mission Assurance Platform to manage space operations and traffic. The company is funded by Kalaari Capital, Peak XV Partners and Global Brain and has raised a total funding of $12.5M over three rounds.