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India’s space startups in for exciting developments

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With the opening of the ‘space doors’ for new players in recent years, India’s space startups are in for exciting developments in 2023. In 2022, the space industry of India hit several key milestones, including Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), the first trial launch of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro); two rounds of satellite launches from private space firms, and India’s first private rocket launch.

The space startups are looking for key announcements from ISRO in terms of the ambitious Gaganyaan, and the private startups could find regular launch footing.

The startups that made headlines in 2022 included, Skyroot, Pixxel, Agnikul Cosmo, Dhruva Space, and Bellatrix Aerospace.

The Skyroot startup’s milestone achievements in 2022 were $50.5 million raised funding for Series B round and its investment led by the foreign investor — Singapore’s sovereign fund, GIC.

“Not only did this make Skyroot the most-funded private space startup in India at the moment, it also made the funding round the largest single round of funding to date for India’s fledgling space sector,” Techcircle, which keeps an eye on technological developments, reported.

“The funding round showed that international investors are harbouring increasing amounts of confidence in the Indian space sector,” Techcircle quoted Sheetal Bahl, partner at venture capital firm GrowX Ventures, saying to the Mint.

Among only three private startups in India to have flown at least one of its satellites or launchers to space is Dhruva Space, with its headquarters in Hyderabad.

It made two launches with tech demonstrator satellites that can prove its capability as a contract manufacturer for satellites.

Among the first successful private Indian startups is Pixxel, which sent its first satellite, Shakuntala, to a low Earth orbit (LEO) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in April 2022.

As the startup followed the launch aboard Isro’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)’s C54 mission for its second satellite, it took a step closer to establishing a high-resolution satellite imaging constellation.

Agnikul also has the distinction of becoming the first space startup to open its own ground station and mission control room in the Isro’s premises. “Agnikul also opened doors to its own rocket engine manufacturing facility. At the moment, it remains the only private startup with its own assembly chain to make its robots — and not need to partner with a vendor,” Techcircle report said.

With a strong ecosystem, many new space startups are in the pipeline in India and the year 2023 needs to be watched for the sector.

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