India’s Private Space Sector Soars with Rapid Growth in Start-Ups and Investments
The private space sector in India has experienced remarkable growth since the country opened its space industry to the private sector in 2020. The number of Indian space start-ups has doubled in just one year, with 190 companies currently active in the sector. Private investments in the Indian space industry have also seen a significant jump of 77% between 2021 and 2022, according to Deloitte consultancy.
Previously, Indian investors were hesitant to invest in space technology due to perceived risks. However, with the opening up of the sector, more Indian investors are now willing to support space-related ventures. This positive shift has resulted in increased investment and the emergence of new companies in the industry.
One such start-up is Pixxel, founded by Awais Ahmed in 2019. Pixxel specializes in hyperspectral imaging satellites that capture a wide spectrum of light to provide detailed information invisible to ordinary cameras. The company aims to build “a health monitor for the planet” by tracking climate risks such as floods, wildfires, and methane leaks. Initially, Pixxel had difficulties accessing launch services from the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). However, the start-up ultimately partnered with the US rocket company SpaceX for its first two satellite launches.
Pixxel has succeeded in attracting significant investments, including $36 million from Google, and has also secured a contract with the US spy agency, the National Reconnaissance Office. These investments will enable Pixxel to launch six more satellites next year.
Before the reform, all Indian space activity was strictly supervised by the ISRO, which managed all aspects of the space program. However, with the opening up of the sector, private companies now have the opportunity to play a more active role in the space industry, rather than just acting as suppliers for the ISRO.
Despite having a relatively modest budget compared to other countries, India’s space program has made significant advancements, including landing a rover on the Moon’s unexplored south pole in August. The country has also launched a probe towards the Sun and is preparing for a crewed mission into Earth’s orbit next year.
The growth of India’s private space sector reflects the increasing recognition of the country as a significant player in the global space industry. With the support of private investments and the emergence of innovative start-ups, India is poised to make further advancements in space technology and exploration.
– Deloitte consultancy
– Isabelle Sourbes-Verger, Indian space sector expert at France’s National Scientific Research Centre
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