Prime Minister Narendra Modi had referenced the 75 India Student Satellite Mission during his address to world leaders at the 76th United Nations General Assembly.
Now, to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, the Indian Space & Research Organization (ISRO) will launch 75 student satellites. The program is named 75 Students’ Satellites Consortium: Mission 2022.
Under this program, students will build these 75 student satellites and be launched with ISRO rockets in phases between August 15, 2022 and 2023. The project was initiated under the Indian Technology Congress Association (ITCA).
The goal is to bring together universities, engineering colleges and schools that would design, build, integrate and test their student-built satellites. By 2021, Indian scientists had built three satellites called “UNITYSat”, which were launched as a co-passenger of ISRO’s PSLV C51 during the Amazon mission. The students had learned important lessons in UNITYSat and were now implementing them to build 75 satellites. Once the PSLV rocket places them in low Earth orbit (LEO), each satellite will remain in Earth orbit for one year and provide data to ground stations. During this time, students would learn to operate the satellite from ground stations and track data. Each of the 75 satellites has an individual mission: to capture images, collect data and collect information. These satellites were designed to promote the Internet of Things (IoT) in space.
India is already an established space power. The expansion and qualitative developments of technologies or research programs require dissemination of activities and healthy competition between academic research organizations. In fact, academia and industry are the two strong pillars of ISRO. This academic element can address advanced R&D capabilities/capabilities in space, science missions and knowledge as users and research, industrial research and space education for R&D issues.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has triggered a series of massive reforms in the space sector. This far-reaching space reform initiative, enacted by the Indian government in May-June 2020, has given a major boost to the private sector space industry, including start-ups.
The main objectives of the reforms are:
1. Level playing field for private companies in satellites, launches and space.
2. A clear policy and regulatory environment for private actors.
3. Access to ISRO facilities and other relevant assets for use by the private sector to enhance its capabilities.
4. Future projects for planetary exploration, outer space travel, etc., to be opened up to the private sector; and
5. Liberalize geospatial data policy to provide remote sensing data to technology entrepreneurs.
That’s not all. Some of the key regulatory and policy reforms in the recent past include:
1. NewSpace India Initiative – Commercial arm of ISRO aimed at production and commercialization of space services including launch services and space applications such as transponder rental, remote sensing and mission support services . NewSpace India enables better collaboration with start-ups and private sector players.
2. Spacecom Policy 2020 – enables space companies to leverage FDI standards to encourage foreign investment in India’s private space sector.
3. IN SPACE— is a nodal agency that acts as a promoter and regulator of all space-related activities. Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) was established on June 24, 2020, with the objectives of holding, promoting and guiding private industries in space activities.
4. Budget 20–21—Rs. 14,000 Crore has been allocated under the Make in India initiative for the promotion and development of space industry in India.
This is how India, with its enormous talent pool, is rapidly welcoming several start-ups in the space technology sector. In just two years since the opening of the space sector, more than 55 start-ups have registered with ISRO. Of the 55 proposals, 29 relate to satellites, 10 to space applications and products, eight to launchers and eight to ground systems and research. Nine start-up proposals are expected to be completed by 2022-23. Various scientific applications are being developed since the launch of the initiative for sectors such as agriculture, food, education, skills, railways, roads, hydropower, l electricity and coal.
Back to 75 Student’s Satellites Consortium: Mission 2022. Each educational institution involved in the project will spend around Rs.80 lakh to Rs.2 Crores on satellite and ground station networks. All educational institutions that are part of the project will have access to all satellites in the constellation.
The Indian Technology Congress Association has collaborated with various organizations such as TMISAT of Israel, CSPD Serbia and UNISEC of Japan to design and launch the student-built satellites. The mission has expanded with more than 50 countries helping to build the capacity of academic institutions for the design and development of student-built SmallSats.
On the ISRO side, three big missions are in preparation for this year. These include the Chandryaan-3 mission to the Moon, the Aditya L-1 mission which will study the Sun, and the most ambitious uncrewed launch of the Gaganyaan mission.