NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has entered into an $18-million memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Australian government. The deal was announced by Australian high commissioner Philip Green during the Indian Space Congress 2024 in New Delhi. Under this partnership, Australian firm Space Machines will launch a satellite inspection and observation payload aboard ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) in 2026. This payload will be the largest Australian satellite launched to date, according to Rajat Kulshrestha, co-founder of Space Machines.

S Somanath, ISRO chairman, stated the goal is to conduct 20-30 SSLV launches annually to meet the demand for small satellite rockets. The partnership involves key stakeholders in India’s private space sector, including Ananth Technologies, which has previously collaborated with ISRO.

The privatization of SSLV is ongoing, with six bidders identified, though a final decision is pending. Pawan Goenka, chairman of the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (In-Space), indicated that the SSLV will eventually be manufactured and operated by the private sector.

The collaboration comes at a time when India’s space economy faces a downturn in commercial projects from the central government. Since the privatization of the sector in 2020, India’s private space economy has garnered $370 million in investments, with Skyroot Aerospace leading at $95 million.

This partnership signifies one of India’s first significant cross-border investments in the space sector since its privatization.

Source: Mint