Bengaluru-based aerospace start-up
Axiom Research Labs, popularly known as Team Indus, is looking to build satellites
for global companies
that want to have their satellite systems in space for various purposes, such as navigation, surveillance and internet.
In a first for an Indian company, Team Indus
has designed a satellite bus — its own platform that would help build satellites
of less than 150 kg and customise transponders or sensors based on the clients’ requirements.
“There is a global demand (for satellites). Increasingly, the sub-150 kg class satellites
are the ones that would be used for future applications,” said Rahul Narayan, cofounder and fleet commander of Team Indus, here on Wednesday. “We want to offer end-to-end service”
Team Indus, which is backed by entrepreneurs such as Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Nandan Nilekani, is focusing on satellites
at a time when there is a global race by private firms to hurl thousands of satellites
into space to offer various services. The biggest of them is OneWeb, a global consortium that includes Virgin Group, Bharti Enterprises and Qualcomm, which is aiming to hurl 648 small satellites
and form a constellation and beam high-speed internet to local terminals. Bharti has committed that it would work with Isro to launch several of these satellites.
PlanetLabs, a US
firm helped by expertise from the US
space agency NASA
is planning to launch 150 low-cost imaging satellites.
So far, India has been able to capture a slice of the small satellite launch market. The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is positioning its polar satellite launch vehicle as a reliable rocket to hurl small satellites.
Antrix estimates over 2,500 satellites
to be built over the next few years as start-ups and global firms look at using satellites
as small as one kg for navigation, maritime and surveillance.
sees an opportunity to hasten that push by offering end-to-end service, which includes managing the entire programme of launching satellites
“Satellite is something that appears to be relatively easy place we can deploy,” said Narayan. He added that the company was talking to several agencies on their projects, but had yet to finalise a deal.
While work on the satellites
is expected to start after January, Narayan's current focus is to prepare for the moon mission by December, which intends to complete to secure the Google Xprize. The winner needs to land a rover on the moon, drive it for 500 metres and take high-definition images and beam it back to the earth.
says it is on track for the journey and is looking at corporate sponsors who can be part of the journey to the moon.
“We recognised the capability we had brought under one roof; the capacity of the staff is unique. Very few organisations have capability in end- to-end programme management, systems definition,” said Narayan. “The moon mission is the first big step of a long journey.”
The firm is looking to launch the moon lander and rover on a PSLV rocket in December and hopes to land on the moon on the Republic Day next year. Four other teams are competing with Team Indus, which is carrying a rover of Japan's Hakuto mission.