India’s new space policy enhancements could offer exciting opportunities for space tech entrepreneurs and private space companies. Spacetech stakeholders and industry experts agree that access to government resources for private space projects will bolster the Indian space start-ups and reduce their dependence on imports.
It has been more than 50 years that the Department of Space, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre have been leading Indian space programmes. To date, the ISRO alone has conducted a majority of India’s space-related activities.
But, with changing policy, private sector intervention will not be limited to the production of components anymore. The collaboration with the space agency ISRO will offer entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises opportunities to develop products and conduct indigenous space missions.
India's space economy is $7 billion, or 2% of the world space economy. The Indian aerospace industry is expected to grow at an average annual growth rate of 48% over the next five years to become $50 billion.
Indian Space Start-ups working with the Government and ISRO
Satellize is the first private company in India to have a satellite in space. In December 2018, the company launched its first satellite into space via SpaceX. It launched its second AISAT satellite for Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation India onboard the fourth stage of the ISRO’s PSLV-C45.
Agnikul Cosmos is a high-tech and low-cost space satellite navigation vehicle producer. The start-up has signed a nondisclosure agreement with the Department of Space (DoS) under the newly proposed IN-SPACe entity.
Shortly after the announcement of space reforms by the Indian government, the Bangalore-based space start-up Pixxel got contracted by the New Space India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO. It plans to thrust the country’s first private remote sensing satellite on an ISRO PSLV rocket.
Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace is developing a technology to provide adequate, reliable and cost-effective space access. The start-up is a vital rocket company that ISRO is helping with test facilities and know-how for their launch vehicles.
This start-up specialises in electric propulsion systems, rocket engines and launchers. It also signed a technological development agreement with ISRO on space electrical systems.
Greater Government Support for Indian Space Start-ups
Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe)
The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) is an autonomous extension of ISRO that enables the private sector to conduct space-related activities. IN-SPACe assesses the needs and requirements of private sector stakeholders, including education and research institutions and consults with ISRO to find ways to meet these needs.
New Space India Limited (NSIL)
New Space India Limited (NSIL) is a public corporation of the Indian government and ISRO. NSIL’s primary goal is to increase private industry involvement in India’s space programme. NSIL is set up to ensure the transfer of Small Satellite technology to industry; it will obtain a license from DoS/ISRO and sub-license the same to industry.
ISRO’s Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) for Space Education and Technology
ISRO has made national use of Atal Tinkering Labs in space education and technology a priority. ISRO is designing space education and space technology as an extracurricular activity for the schools to utilise ATLs, which will endorse the Ministry of Education to instil space entrepreneurship curiosity from a young level.
Draft Spacecom Policy 2020
Department of Space’s Draft Spacecom Policy 2020 aims to meet the country’s growing demand for space communications. In this process, the Government of India will emphasise the ease of doing business and encourage implementing the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative that promotes healthy competition in the development of the national economy.
Why Should an Aspiring Entrepreneur Start a Space Start-up?
In 2018, ISRO announced its intention to launch incubators across India to support the roll-out of space technology start-ups. Such programmes working with start-ups that build newer solutions in rocketry, communication satellites and applications based on remote sensing data are also a growing incentive for new players.
With a range of government aid pouring in for the space industry, this sector is a gold mine for new entrepreneurs to start their business in. As the government rolls out initiatives such as a new launch vehicle policy and a space exploration policy, start-ups can seize the opportunity by using public resources and churn out their own model ideas.