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Opportunity for Startups in Aerospace- Here are Some of the Space Startups

Saransh Pandey

Intern
  • August 07, 2020
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    • Startups need to participate in the space sector in India if we want to build our own aerospace companies such as Maxar, Elon Musk’s SpaceX
    • Now, due to factors like 90 percent decline in satellite manufacturing cost and educational i

    India’s fledgling aerospace start-ups have a great opportunity ahead of them, with India allowing private companies to operate within the premises of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Now the space startups could be involved in building and launching rockets and satellites to providing space services commercially and could be even part of planetary exploration missions. The Cabinet has already given approval to the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (In-SPACe) which is aimed at involving the participation of the private sector in the entire range of space to drive the building of satellites, rockets, or launch services through Indian industry. 

    So far, the participation of start-ups in the space sector has largely been minimal. If India want to build their own aerospace companies such as Maxar, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and Rocket Labs, these startups need to participate in the space sector. The next innovation and technology transformation are expected to be in the space sector. As the countries like United States and Europe are cracking new millstones in the field of space technology, India is not far behind. A decade ago, the sector would be a topic of interest only for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) but now thanks to multiple factors like the 90 percent decline in satellite manufacturing cost and educational institutions providing early-stage support many private companies and startups are entering this niche sector in India. The startups that are the future of Indian space sector are: 

    1. EXSEED SPACE

    Year of Establishment: 2017 

    Founder: Kris Nair 

    Exseed Space is a startup that aims at becoming the leader in the manufacturing of spacecraft. The company develops small satellite platforms with a major focus on assembly, integration, testing, and operation of satellites. They use proven expertise and cutting-edge technology to build satellites that are more cost-effective than the others in the market. Exseed Space was the first startup from India that was selected by ISRO to build large satellites for ISRO and was given the contract to build 9 to 15 satellites of 4,000 kgs each for the Indian Space program They are involved in activities like obtaining the desired payload, optical, communication, designing the boxes and launching them through space launchers and getting data from them while they’re in flight. Exseed Space primary focus is assembly, integration, testing, and operation of satellites. Currently, the company is working on these two projects: 

    Contract Satellite Manufacturing

    Exseed Space is working on setting up India’s first contract satellite manufacturing facility. Once it becomes operational, it will manufacture Cubesats, Nano-sats & Micro-sats. 

    Communication Satellite Constellations

    Exseed Space is working on M2M communications, Vessel tracking & RF signals monitoring from space and is building and delivering communication services using small satellite constellations. 

     

    2. DHRUVA SPACE

    Year of Establishment: 2012 

    Founders: Sanjay Nekkanti, Narayan Prasad, and Abhishek Raju 

    Dhruva Space is a Bangalore based private space company. Sanjay Nekkanti its founder pursued his graduate studies at the European Union’s Erasmus Mundus Space master program after which he traveled to Germany and Sweden and learned about satellites and space instruments. Nekkanti returned to India in 2012 to start a SpaceTec startup but later on found it difficult to continue, it was then that he with his friends started Dhruva Space. The objective of the company is to develop a spacecraft development private industry in India. Dhruva has signed an MOU with ISRO to develop a follow-up satellite to HAMSAT-1 launched in 2005, the objective of which will be to cater to the societal needs in disaster management, amateur/emergency radio communication and education. The company is working on developing AIT for microsatellites in Bengaluru. 

     

    3. EARTH2ORBIT (E2O)

    Year of Establishment: 2007  

    Founder: Sushmita Mohanty 

    Earth2Orbit is the first private space startup in India. The company services include offering space launch advisory and consulting services. The company aims at leading the India⊃1;s emerging private enterprise for space exploration and utilization. E2O has set up its business in Mumbai, Bangalore, Trivandrum, and Ahmedabad and also has international satellite offices in San Francisco and Vienna. The products and services offered by the company include satellite and launch services, human space systems, robotic systems, infrastructure, and aerospace consulting. 

     

    4. BELLATRIX AEROSPACE

    Year of Establishment: 2015 

    Founder: Rohan M Ganapathy and Yashas Karanam 

    It is a Coimbatore based Research and Development company that launches electric propulsion systems for satellites. The company plans to use its patented electric propulsion systems to reduce the satellite mission cost.  Bellatrix is currently building a rocket named 'Chetak', which will be of low-cost and reusable at the same time due to the use of next-gen construction material such as carbon composite. Also, the rocket would be the first with engines that use Methane and liquid oxygen.  The company innovated an electric satellite propulsion system called Microwave Electro-thermal Thruster (MET), which it claims is more efficient than traditional chemical thrusters and lasts longer, which is patented by the company’s name. 

     

    5. XOVIAN

    Year of Establishment: 2011 

    Founder: Raghav Sharma, Ankit Bhateja 

    Xovian is an Aerospace startup that is based in New Delhi. The company aims at providing low-cost sustainable solutions in satellite fabrication. The company’s founder met on Facebook after which they decided to come up with this startup. The company first product was a satellite called Cansat which they built-in 2014. The company has built a strong team that has decades of experience in satellite technology. Xovian is a member of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). It also conducts Educational and Research-based activities to fill the gap between industries and educational institutions. Currently, the company is involved in fields of CANSAT, sounding rockets, high altitude balloons, and satellite components manufacturing. 

     

    6. Pixxel

    Year of Establishment: 2018 

    Founders: Kshitij Khandelwal and Awais Ahmed 

    Pixxel is a Bengaluru-based SpecTech startup that was founded in late 2018 and is currently in its early stages. The company was founded by Kshitij Khandelwal and Awais Ahmed, two undergraduate students at BITS Pilani during the last year of their college. They were the finalists at the 2017 SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. Pixxel will help bring out details of minerals, water, and other resources on the moon, Mars, and even the asteroid with the help of constellation of remote sensing satellites which they are building that will launch into space. Pixxel is the only company in India that will launch the satellite in the month of November this year. This company is planning to launch around 24 ultra-high-resolution observation satellites to gather data and study agriculture, climate change, etc. 

    7. Skyroot Aerospace

    Year of Establishment: 2018 

    Founders: Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka

    Skyroot Aerospace is a Hyderabad-based SpaceTec startup that was founded by two former ISRO scientists. The company builds small satellite launch vehicles (SSLV) for small satellites and launches them into space within a short time period. The startup is working on the manufacturing of three types of launch vehicles - Vikram I, II, and III. The company believes that these launch vehicles can carry payloads ranging from 200-700 kg to a low Earth orbit, this will in turn make it the first company in the world to do this.

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