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Indian Space Startups You Should Know About

Space is the final frontier for humanity, and India is one of the countries that is actively exploring and harnessing the potential of this vast and mysterious domain. India has a rich history of space achievements, from launching its first satellite Aryabhata in 1975 to sending its first mission to Mars in 2013. India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has been at the forefront of developing and launching various satellites, rockets, and missions for various purposes such as communication, navigation, remote sensing, scientific research, and space exploration.

However, ISRO is not the only player in the Indian space sector. In recent years, several private companies and startups have emerged to complement and challenge ISRO’s dominance in the space industry. These startups are leveraging their innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship to offer new and affordable solutions for various space applications. Some of these startups are also collaborating with ISRO to access its facilities, expertise, and resources.

In this article, we will introduce you to six Indian space startups that you should know about. These startups are:

Pixxel

  • Pixxel is a Bengaluru-based startup that was founded in 2019 by Awais Ahmed and Kshitij Khandelwal, who were then students at BITS Pilani. Pixxel’s vision is to create a constellation of Earth observation satellites that can provide high-resolution imagery and data for various applications such as agriculture, urban planning, environmental monitoring, disaster response, and defence.
  • Pixxel’s satellites are designed to be small, light-weight, and low-cost. Each satellite weighs around 15 kg and has a resolution of less than 1 meter. Pixxel plans to launch its first satellite in 2023 on a Soyuz rocket, followed by more satellites in the next few years. Pixxel aims to have a constellation of around 30 satellites by 2025 that can cover the entire globe every 24 hours.
  • Pixxel’s satellites will generate huge amounts of data that can be processed using artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide actionable insights for various users. Pixxel’s clients include government agencies, private companies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions. Pixxel also plans to make its data accessible to the public through an online platform.
  • Pixxel has raised $7.3 million in seed funding from investors such as Lightspeed India Partners, Blume Ventures, growX Ventures, Ryan Johnson (former CEO of BlackBridge), Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator², and others.

Agnikul Cosmos

  • Agnikul Cosmos is a Chennai-based startup that was founded in 2017 by Srinath Ravichandran and Moin SPM. Agnikul’s mission is to democratize access to space by developing small satellite launch vehicles that can be customized and launched on demand. Agnikul’s launch vehicles are designed to carry payloads ranging from 10 kg to 100 kg to low Earth orbit.
  • Agnikul’s launch vehicles are based on a semi-cryogenic engine technology that uses liquid oxygen and kerosene as propellants. The engine can be 3D printed using metal alloys, which reduces the cost and time of manufacturing. The launch vehicles are also modular and scalable, which allows them to be configured according to the customer’s requirements.
  • Agnikul’s launch vehicles are expected to be ready for flight testing by 2023. Agnikul has already signed agreements with several customers such as Spaceflight Inc., Leaf Space, In-Space Missions, etc. Agnikul also plans to offer its launch services through an online booking platform that will allow customers to choose their preferred orbit, payload size, launch date, etc.

Bellatrix Aerospace

  • Bellatrix Aerospace is a Bengaluru-based startup that was founded in 2015 by Rohan Ganapathy and Yashas Karanam. Bellatrix’s vision is to create innovative and efficient propulsion systems for satellites and launch vehicles. Bellatrix’s propulsion systems are based on electric and green propellants that offer advantages such as lower mass, higher performance, and reduced environmental impact.
  • One of the products of Bellatrix Aerospace is the Microwave Plasma Thruster (MPT), which is an electric propulsion system that uses microwaves to ionize a propellant and accelerate it through a magnetic nozzle. The MPT can use various propellants such as water, ammonia, or methane, which are readily available and cheap. The MPT can provide high thrust and high specific impulse, which makes it suitable for orbit raising, station keeping, and de-orbiting of satellites.
  • Another product of Bellatrix Aerospace is the Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV), which is a spacecraft that can carry multiple satellites to different orbits using electric propulsion. The OTV can reduce the cost and complexity of launching satellites by allowing them to share a single launch vehicle. The OTV can also extend the lifespan of satellites by providing them with orbital maintenance and repositioning services.
  • Bellatrix Aerospace has raised $3 million in pre-Series A funding from investors such as IDFC-Parampara, StartupXseed, Karsemven Fund, and Survam Partners. Bellatrix Aerospace has also received support from ISRO, DRDO, and IISc Bangalore. Bellatrix Aerospace plans to launch its first MPT in 2023 and its first OTV in 2024.

Dhruva Space

  • Dhruva Space is a Hyderabad-based startup that was founded in 2012 by Sanjay Nekkanti, Narayan Prasad, Abhay Egoor, and Hemant Sreekumar. Dhruva Space’s mission is to provide end-to-end solutions for satellite development, launch and operations. Dhruva Space offers services such as satellite design, manufacturing, testing, integration, launch coordination, ground station setup, mission control, data analysis, and satellite decommissioning.
  • Dhruva Space specializes in small satellites such as CubeSats and NanoSats that can be used for various applications such as remote sensing, communication, education, and research. Dhruva Space has developed several satellite platforms such as Dhruva-1 (a 1U CubeSat), Dhruva-2 (a 2U CubeSat), Dhruva-3 (a 3U CubeSat), and Dhruva-4 (a 6U CubeSat). Dhruva Space also provides customized satellite solutions according to the customer’s requirements.
  • Dhruva Space has partnered with several organizations such as ISRO, Antrix Corporation, NSIL, SatSure, Spire Global, etc. Dhruva Space has also launched several satellites such as M6P, NetSat, etc. Dhruva Space aims to become a leading provider of small satellite solutions in India and abroad.

Skyroot Aerospace

  • Skyroot Aerospace is a Hyderabad-based startup that was founded in 2018 by Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka. Skyroot’s vision is to build orbital-class launch vehicles that are reusable and cost-effective. Skyroot’s launch vehicles are designed to carry payloads ranging from 200 kg to 700 kg to low Earth orbit.
  • Skyroot’s launch vehicles are based on a solid-fuelled rocket technology that uses advanced composite materials and 3D printed components. The launch vehicles are also modular and scalable, which allows them to be configured according to the payload size and orbit. The launch vehicles are named after Indian sages such as Vikramaditya, Ramanuja, Agastya, and Valmiki.
  • Skyroot has raised $11 million in Series A funding from investors such as Greenko Group, Solar Industries, Mukesh Bansal, etc. Skyroot has also received support from ISRO, DRDO, HAL, etc. Skyroot plans to launch its first rocket Vikram-I in 2023 and achieve reusability by 2025.

Vesta Space Technology

  • Vesta Space Technology is a Pune-based startup that was founded in 2018 by Arun Kumar Sureban. Vesta’s vision is to create satellite-based IoT solutions for various sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, education and disaster management. Vesta’s IoT solutions are based on small satellites that can collect and transmit data from various sensors and devices on Earth.
  • Vesta’s satellites are designed to be small, light-weight, and low-cost. Each satellite weighs around 10 kg and has a resolution of 5 meters. Vesta plans to launch a constellation of 35 satellites by 2025 that can cover the entire globe every 90 minutes. Vesta’s satellites will generate huge amounts of data that can be processed using artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide actionable insights for various users.

Conclusion

These are some of the Indian space startups that you should know about. These startups are creating innovative and affordable solutions for various space applications. These startups are also collaborating with ISRO and other organizations to access their facilities, expertise, and resources. These startups are not only contributing to India’s space ambitions, but also to the global space industry. These startups are also creating new opportunities for employment, education, and social impact. These startups are the future of Indian space sector.

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