Space Industry in India

by Analytics Insight

January 13, 2022

Let’s take a quick look at how far space industry in India has reached and where we could go from here

The space industry in India is at something of a pivotal moment in its history. Never before has there been this level of private sector interest in the industry, with more and more start-ups cropping up to solve the various problems plaguing the industry through their unique business use-cases.

Let’s take a quick look at how far we’ve reached, and where we could possibly go from here.


Evolution of the SpaceTech sector in India

India’s space-age had its humble beginnings in the 1960s when we first launched a borrowed-sounding rocket from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in Thiruvananthapuram. Since that day, we have come a long way, wherein 2019 the Indian Space sector now contributes significantly to the global space landscape.

For much of its history, the Indian space industry was largely a government affair, with the ISRO leading the way for research, development, and production of equipment and supplies. In the 70s we launched our first satellite called Aryabhatta with the help of the Soviets, and by the late 80s and early 90s, India had its own reliable launch capabilities developed with the SLV, PSLV, and GSLV launch vehicles.

Commercialisation started to trickle down from that point onwards, with ISRO taking satellite launch orders from other smaller countries and space agencies, as well as relying more on smaller private contractors for sub-contracts. The evolution of Antrix Corporation (and later NewSpace India Ltd) as the commercial arm of ISRO and the emergence of the IT services industry in India following the privatisation policies of the 90s also bolstered the belief that the future of space technology is private. ISRO has been slowly transferring its technical know-how to small and medium enterprises over the past few decades, and this has resulted in over 500 sub-contractors and suppliers today in the Indian space industry.

The real tipping point has been the 2010s, where a flurry of core technology focussed start-ups have been springing up in the country in all areas of the space value chain, and are on the brink of commercialising their technical advancements. This new age of commercial space flight with the potential to create massive value, retain talent, and create jobs in the ecosystem, is propelling India to a leadership position in the global space economy.


Policy boosters needed to truly realize the full potential

Given the complex and sensitive nature of the industry with overarching implications in national security, economy, and wellbeing of its citizens, space has always been a heavily regulated sector.

Significant progress has been made in the regulatory and policy aspect to promote the private space industry over the past few years. A few of the key policy milestones in the recent past include:

  • NewSpace India Initiative— Commercial arm of ISRO aimed at production and marketing of space-based services, including launch services and space-based applications like transponder leasing, remote sensing, and mission support services. NewSpace India will enable better collaboration with start-ups and private sector players without the hassle of government intervention
  • Spacecom Policy 2020— allows for space companies to leverage the FDI norms to encourage foreign investments in India’s private space sector
  • IN SPACe— is a nodal agency that acts as a promoter and regulator of all space-related activities. IN-SPACe will work closely with private players to ensure greater collaboration with the private sector, sharing of resources and facilities, fast-track approvals etc.
  • Budget 20–21— INR 14000 Crore has been allocated under the Make in India initiative for the promotion and development of the space industry in India

While these policy interventions/reforms are steps in the right direction, there is a lot more that can be achieved with the right kind of stimulus from the government. A few potential avenues of development are:

  • Incubator and Grant Programs: Research and development of space technology is a long and costly process. Setting up incubators and grant programs that support the sector during this initial R&D phase will greatly improve entrepreneurship and investor participation in this sector, as well as increase the success rate of these start-ups
  • Space Qualification: One of the major stages en route to the successful commercialisation of any space technology is space qualification. Space qualification refers to the testing and proof of concept demonstration of technologies while in space. Given the costs associated with commercial space qualification tests, most start-ups can only afford a limited number of attempts at this process. With ISRO’s help in launching payload, more start-ups may be able to afford space qualification tests multiple times in the future, increasing the chances of successful commercialisation


Various business models through which Indian start-ups contribute to India’s space programme

There are several business opportunities if we consider the entire space value chain. These can be divided into two broad segments: Upstream and Downstream



Upstream opportunities are involved in the core research and development of orbital systems, launch vehicles, satellite propulsion, etc. These upstream services create the infrastructure to sustain the downstream players

Key players in this space include:

  • Bellatrix Aerospace – satellite propulsion systems
  • Agnikul Cosmos – 3D printed launch vehicles
  • Skyroot Aerospace – small satellite launch systems



Downstream opportunities are space operations for terrestrial value creation, such as weather and climate monitoring, satellite communication, broadcasting, selected GIS GNSS enabled services, earth imaging, defence, etc.

Key Players in this space include:

  • Pixxel – Earth observation
  • Kawa space – Satellite imaging and weather observation
  • GalaxEye – capture and provide insights from satellite imagery

Apart from these, there are numerous other opportunities on the services side including manufacturing, software systems, ground station businesses, etc., which are more project-based, but still critical to the overall development of the ecosystem.

The private space sector in India is still in its nascency, but it holds a lot of promise for the future. Enterprising engineers and scientists now see a career in commercial space as a viable option as observed not only by the many start-ups coming up but also by the migration from governmental organisations to private companies. While it may be a gradual process, it is quite critical that for-profit companies enter the sector and create a lot more value than being dependent on the government budget in the future. In any case, at Inflexor we are excited to see what the future of space holds in India!



Venkat Vallabhaneni, Managing Partner, Inflexor Ventures.

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Analytics Insight

Analytics Insight is an influential platform dedicated to insights, trends, and opinions from the world of data-driven technologies. It monitors developments, recognition, and achievements made by Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Analytics companies across the globe.

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