India had opened up its space sector for private players a few years ago, and startups seem to be grabbing the opportunity with both hands.
As many as four Indian startups will send payloads on PSLV-C58 mission that’ll launch on Monday. The launch is designed to put into orbit XPoSat, which is India’s first X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite that would offer insights into celestial objects like blackholes. But ISRO’s PSLV Orbital Experimental Module (POEM) also allows in-orbit scientific experiments using the spent PS4 stage as an orbital platform, which can carry other payloads. The startups’ payloads will be housed in the fourth stage of the PSLV rocket, and will be placed in a low earth orbit for carrying out experiments.
Hyderabad-based Dhruva Space will use the launch to validate the functionality and robustness of the P-30 nanosatellite platform and its various subsystems in-orbit as part of ‘Launching Expeditions for Aspiring Payloads – Technology Demonstrator’ (LEAP-TD) payload. “The LEAP initiative of Dhruva Space marks a significant moment, underscoring our commitment to delivering full-stack and hosted payload solutions to our customers. This will be further enriched by new, upcoming pursuits in the fields of Earth Observation, IoT solutions, and more,” Sanjay Nekkanti, Chief Executive Officer, Dhruva Space said. Dhruva Space was founded all the way back in 2012, and has raised over Rs. 50 crore from investors so far.
In addition, Bengaluru-based Bellatrix Aerospace will test its Rudra 0.3 HPGP, a green monopropellant thruster and ARKA-200, a heater-less hollow cathode for Hall thrusters. Also, Mumbai-based InspeCity Space Labs Private Limited, founded by Arindrajit Chowdhury, will test the Green Impulse TrAnsmitter (GITA), a Green bipropellant CubeSat propulsion unit. Meanwhile, Hyderabad-based TakeMe2Space will test its Radiation Shielding Experimental Module (RSEM) that is designed to assess the effectiveness of Tantalum coating that would help increase the lifespan of a CubeSat.
The mission will also have a Women Engineered Satellite (WESAT) developed by Thiruvananthapuram-based LBS Institute of Technology for Women, that aims to measure solar irradiance and UV Index. Mumbai-based KJ Somaiya Institute of Technology will have an amateur radio satellite BeliefSat-0 onboard.
These launches are a happy byproduct of satellite launches that are anyway carried out by ISRO. While the mission is focused on the XPoSat, the mission will also launch several satellites and missions from startups around the country. It’s impetus like this can help India’s fledgling private space sector — while ISRO has been carrying out complex missions for years, the new crop of private space players can now hitch a ride on some of its biggest launches.