Launch satellites from our launchpad: Sweden to Indian companies

Although an appealing offer, the feasibility for Indian startups remains a question, said a source from the industry.

Published: 21st November 2020 05:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st November 2020 05:34 AM   |  A+A-

A photo of PSLV C45 taking off to skies from Sriharikota in April 2019 | isro

Express News Service

BENGALURU: A little over a month after Sweden approved a site to launch small satellites at Esrange Space Center in North Sweden on October 14, the Sweden Space Corporation has made an offer to private Indian companies to bring rockets to launch small satellites from their new launchpad. 

Confirming this to The New Indian Express on the sidelines of Bengaluru Tech Summit 2020 on Friday, Arne Christer Fuglesang, Sweden-based European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut who is now Adjunct Professor in Space Physics at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, however, said no rocket building facilities would be provided in Sweden for these companies.

Fuglesang explained that rockets built and assembled by Indian companies could be transported into Sweden to the site, and Swedish satellites to be launched will not weigh more than 150kg. Although an appealing offer, the feasibility for Indian startups remains a question, said a source from the industry.

The four startups in India that are working on launch vehicles to release 150-kg satellites into space, are yet to prove their launch capability. Neither is there a private launch site for the same in India. Indian space startups, at the moment, are waiting for the space policy to be released. 

No conflict of interest between India, Sweden

“There are definite factors that will decide if startups from India will take the plunge and use Swedish facilities. One of the incentives would be Sweden opening restrictions, such as accessing dat a , which the Indian space agency lacks. Another aspect would be the cost, which ought to be low enough to cover transportation of equipment across borders.

And the third aspect that would dictate the decision to launch in Sweden is the customers’ choice of launch site. Launch is a service, and we are only providers. So, only if the customer wants our vehicle shipped to Sweden, we will have to move there,” said Subash P Kuppisamy, founder, Brahmastra Aerospace Systems, a Chennai-based startup.

With the Indian space sector opening up to foreign players to build satellites, Fuglesang is conf ident that companies will find oppor tuni t ies t o build satellites in India if there is a winwin situation. He said there is no conflict of interest between India and Sweden in developing their space prowess at the same time. Launches and satellite development are two separate domains of expertise, and collaborations can be planned on the comparative advantage of who does what best, he pointed out.


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