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Making Space Technology Affordable

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By Sunil Shekhawat, CEO, Sanchiconnect

The world of space exploration is rapidly changing, and Indian startups are at the forefront of making this once-futuristic dream more accessible and affordable. As the cost of commercial space exploration continues to fall and new innovations reshape the industry, India’s space tech sector is poised for impressive growth. In this article, we’ll dive into how Indian startups are driving this transformation, reducing rocket launching costs, and propelling the country’s share in the global space economy.

According to a story by The New York Times, India has become home to at least 140 registered space-tech start-ups, comprising a local research field that stands to transform the planet’s connection to the final frontier. It’s one of India’s most sought-after sectors for venture capital investors. The startups’ growth has been explosive, leaping from five when the pandemic started. And they see a big market to serve.

The global market for commercial rocket launches is soaring to new heights, currently valued at a staggering $12 billion. Industry experts predict this figure could more than double, reaching an astronomical $30 billion by 2030. Simultaneously, India’s space tech sector is gearing up for a transformative journey, with projections indicating a striking 30% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). This ambitious trajectory aims to elevate the sector’s value to an impressive $77 billion by 2030.

Currently, there are approximately 7500 satellites orbiting our planet, each serving diverse functions such as communication, weather forecasting, navigation, and Earth observation. Unlocking affordability in the realm of space technology hinges on addressing three pivotal areas of innovation:

1. Propellant Innovation: A substantial portion of the endeavours to cut costs revolves around minimising the propellant mass required for rocket launches. This entails revolutionary advancements in fuel quality and type, enhancing velocity while concurrently reducing the overall mass that needs to be propelled.

2. Reusability Revolution: The startups are focused on developing rapid and reusable launch systems. These inventive approaches are leading to more cost-effective launches, as components can be utilized for multiple missions, thereby significantly reducing production expenses.

3. The Big Rocket Advantage: Constructing larger rockets is another avenue pursued to drive down costs. The economics of scale come into play here – larger rockets can transport more payload for a comparatively lower cost per kilogram. However, the challenge lies in generating adequate customer demand to render these large-scale rockets economically sustainable.

In the quest to make space exploration attainable for the masses, Indian startups have not only conceptualised grand ambitions but have also secured substantial funding to support their endeavours. Over the span of time from 2014 to May 2023, these innovative startups have collectively secured a commendable $205 million across 33 investment deals. This influx of funds is propelling innovation, fostering technological breakthroughs, and catalysing the transformation of the space industry.

Highlighting India’s growing significance in the global space industry, a study conducted by the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) in December 2022 revealed remarkable insights. Despite contributing a modest 2.1% to the global space economy in 2020, India’s market share translated into an impressive $9.6 billion. This seemingly modest fraction played a significant role in the country’s economic landscape, constituting 0.4% of its total Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The journey ahead holds promises of even more astonishing advancements. India’s startups are at the forefront of making space exploration more than just a domain of scientific curiosity and international competition. They are paving the way for a future where space is accessible to a broader spectrum of humanity, offering opportunities for commercial enterprises, scientific exploration, and technological innovation.

As India’s spacetech sector continues its trajectory of growth, the reverberations extend beyond national borders. The advancements being pioneered by these startups are influencing and shaping the global space economy. The transformation is underway, and it is driven by the audacity of dreamers and the tenacity of visionaries, united by the aspiration to make the cosmos not just a final frontier, but a new realm of opportunity and growth.

Wrapping it up

Space technology is undergoing a metamorphosis, and the vanguard of this transformation is being led by Indian startups. Their relentless pursuit of reducing costs, propelling innovation, and expanding accessibility is positioning India as a key player in the global space economy. The future holds promise – not only of technological breakthroughs but of a new era where space is within the grasp of the many, not just the few.

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1 Comment
  1. Aslam Sherieff J says

    Nice Article Dr. Sunil, Highlighting the potential of Indian Startups and how India will play a key role in this exploration.

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