The New Year 2023 could witness lots of happenings for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It has decided to shift its spotlight on science experiments in the upcoming year with grand missions to the Sun – Aditya – and the moon – Chandrayaan-3, while the nascent start-up sector looks all set to soar in the space applications segment.
In 2023, ISRO could see a series of experiments on the country’s maiden human space flight. ISRO’s flagship project, Gaganyaan, is eying for validating the performance of the human-rated launch vehicle, orbital module propulsion system and recovery operations.
According to Union Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh’s statement in the Parliament recently, ISRO has decided to conduct the first runway landing experiment (RLV-LEX) of the reusable launch vehicle from Aeronautical Test Range in Karnataka’s Chitradurga, reported PTI.
Start-ups in Space industry
Skyroot Aerospace, which launched India’s first privately developed rocket in November, has planned to put a client satellite in orbit in the coming year 2023. Agnikul Cosmos, a start-up incubated on the IIT-Madras campus, planned to test flight of its customisable Agnibaan rocket.
“We are developing six commercial hyperspectral imagery satellites which will be ready for launch next year,” Pixxel co-founder and CEO Awais Ahmed was quoted as saying by PTI.
Though the sole domain of ISRO earlier, the start-ups look all set to tap the potential of the huge space applications market in India. They have carved a niche for themselves in the earth imaging sector, developing rockets to launch small satellites, designing cheaper fuels for satellites and even planning to take tourists on a space journey.
According to the statement of Chaitanya Dora Surapureddy, Chief Financial Officer, DhruvaSpace, quoted by PTI: “The potential for innovative space applications is immense, especially if established aerospace companies form partnerships with businesses that traditionally haven’t ventured into orbit, e.g. pharmaceutical, agriculture companies.”
DhruvaSpace launched two satellites Thybolt 1 & 2 onboard ISRO’s PSLV C-54 mission which showed the ability to conduct amateur satellite communication. It would help ham radio operations. DhurvaSpace has already taken its first commercial contract worth Rs 20 crore to build satellites, said Surapureddy.
Age of start-ups
The number of space startups in India has zoomed past 100 and they have raised funding of more than USD 245.35 million, said Lt Gen A K Bhatt (Retd.), Director General, Indian Space Association (ISpA), reported PTI. Agnikul also inaugurated its first launchpad and mission control centre at ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.
In 2022, the space industry witnessed milestones as NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) has authored the space conglomerate formed by Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Hindustan Aeronautics
OneWeb inked a deal for the services of ISRO’s launch vehicle to put 36 satellites in low earth orbit from Sriharikota. A further launch of another 36 satellites is expected in the year of 2023.
The OneWeb contract for ISRO is said to be a result of aggressive bidding by the Indians after the Ukraine conflict knocked off the Russian space launch capabilities off the market.
With agency inputs