Digiantra Research and Technology (DRT), a space tech startup founded by Lovely Professional University alumni, has been selected for the SID (Society for Innovation and Development) incubation program at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore. Started by Anirudh Sharma & Rahul Rawat in 2018 from their dormitory at their university, Digantara is India’s first air and space surveillance company · The startup has received a grant of Rs 25 lakhs which will be used to develop space debris monitoring systems and the company’s expansion.
It has developed India’s first In-orbit Space Debris Monitoring and tracking system, which will provide global real-time earth coverage by deploying a constellation of cost-efficient nanosatellites in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) and a space-based air surveillance payload for accurate tracking of both aircraft and space objects.
According to Anirudh Sharma and Rahul Rawat, the co-founders, “With a comprehensive approach to long term space flight safety, Digantara will help international space agencies to track and map the space debris and minimize the major threat to the future of space exploration.”
Anirudh Sharma, Co-founder and CEO, interacted with Huma Siddiqui. Following are excerpts:
What are your future plans for Digantara in India?
India is well known as a low-cost space-faring nation. Taking the legacy forward, Digantara was set up to build cost-effective and affordable space systems, which is only possible if we are stationed in India.
We plan to establish a Small Satellite Assembly Line and Production unit (Ford T Model for Space) for developing agile small satellites for our surveillance satellite constellation.
Establish a space surveillance platform indigenous to India.
Robust Nanosatellite Constellation to cater to commercial and defence needs for the country in Surveillance of Space & Air.
And, expanding capabilities of our constellation for asset and vessel tracking.
Thus, building an entire space-based surveillance spectrum of services.
How is the company going to gain from the decision of the Government opening the Space sector for private companies?
With no space policy in place, critical requirements of a space mission such as frequency allocation, approval and licenses for satellites built by private companies were in grey area. Plus, building a high capital intensive testing infrastructure was also a challenge for all startups. But, the new announcements by the Department of Space along with the formation of InSpace are expected to streamline the entire space administrative process. This will be a massive enabler for us to own, build, test, launch and operate space assets. Moreover, we see this as a stepping stone to greatly increase opportunities for private participation in India’s space endeavours and securing India’s space assets.
Have you signed with any other space agency either in South America or Africa or other countries?
No, EXA is the only South American Company that we have partnered so far.
Our other partnerships include: –
During, Satellite 2020 at Washington DC, we signed an MoU with a Taiwanese Space Startup – Tensor Tech Ltd to develop satellites with highly accurate ADCS capabilities. This partnership will further enable us to advance in Space Robotics and AOCS capabilities for more efficient production of high-quality satellite systems.
We have signed another MoU with Germany based company – OKAPI Orbits GmbH (During the 70th IAC 2019 in Washington) to collaborate on a sustainable space environment. Digantara is working on a system to measure space debris objects in space using a laser ranging system on small satellites. Whereas, OKAPI: Orbits is currently creating a Space Situational Awareness Platform providing services for safe satellite operations in an increasingly crowded space environment. In this cooperation, Digantara will focus on the data creation, whereas OKAPI: Orbits will be using this data to improve the knowledge of the space object population and increase the accuracy of their services, such as automated collision avoidance.)
We are likely to sign some partnerships agreements with UK based Space Companies, this month. (2 Companies from the UK).