First ever Indian private firm signs space deal to build, launch satellites

An Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chandrayaan 2 Module on GSLV MK III rocket. (ISRO photo/Released)
December 05, 2020

For the first time in history, an Indian private company will be entering an international venture for the space sector. The Bengaluru-based private firm Ananth Technologies signed a landmark deal with US satellite maker Saturn Satellites to build two communication-based satellites in a joint venture.

Both satellites will proceed through a joint development program between both firms. Satellites will be of the 300-700 kilogram class and will be designed to perform a wide range of communication. It will mark the first major step for any Indian private company in the elite market of the space sector, thus creating an independent environment for more upcoming firms to invest in the market, which was mostly monopolized by the public sector and government-owned firms in India.

Ananth Technologies will have a joint venture for this program with Saturn Satellites called “SaAn Satellite Networks India.” This JV satellite will be designed and developed with ISRO’s workhorse PSLV, which will be its launch vehicle in the future. Meanwhile, the launch will be managed by New Space India Ltd, an entity created to engage with the industry to build and launch satellites on Indian soil while allowing other private players to invest in this sector.

Ananth Technologies will aim to develop these satellites dubbed as “NationSats” to allow Indian private firms to operate them with global companies, essentially forging an Indian pillar under the sky of the international space market. Indian companies have the capabilities to design satellites at 30 percent less than the cost of foreign satellite builders. Indian private players will also have an edge with ISRO’s already created infrastructure for space technologies. Tapping into this vast pool of expertise and atmosphere developed after 40 years of experience invested by ISRO, Ananth firm has been a supplier of critical instruments and subsystems for ISRO for years. With the expertise gained from helping and adaptivity in these advanced mechanics sectors, the firm is now ready to deliver India’s first independent satellite maker under privately listed companies.

India aims to capitalize on their deep pool of private startups to use ISRO’s workhorse expendable vehicles for prime launch options, thus creating a huge opportunity for the self-sustaining industry to grow exponentially on Indian soil in this potential sector. India has competitively lesser rates and costs for designing, developing, and launching space systems thanks to homebuilt technologies that India developed over decades. These treasures of expertise will be helpful in seeding vast talent inside private sectors and outsourcing it effectively for the national interest.