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30 space launches from Indian soil by March 2025 planned

Activity in the still-nascent domestic space sector is tipped to pick up pace through this year and through end-FY25, the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (In-Space), the country’s nodal space mission authorization agency, said on Thursday. A press statement projected a total of 30 space launches from Indian soil—its highest to date—by March 2025.

Central space agency the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is still projected to account for a majority of the launches—with nine research-oriented missions and seven launches towards India’s manned space mission, Gaganyaan, slated for end-FY25. However, Isro’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), which is tipped to become the bulk space mission contributor in the future, is slated for only a solitary launch before the end of next month.

New Space India Ltd (NSIL), Isro’s commercial arm, is slated to undertake seven commercial missions for paying customers by end-FY25. Through 2023, NSIL’s commercial missions included five launches, and a demonstrator launch of the much-hyped SSLV.

The private sector, meanwhile, is slated to make six launches by March 2025. Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace and Bengaluru’s Agnikul Cosmos will make four and two sub-orbital launches, respectively. Skyroot has so far been the only private space startup to have made a launch from domestic soil, with its Vikram sounding rocket launching from Sriharikota in November 2022.

The projected launch schedule reflects India’s efforts to scale up its space sector beyond research missions. In its decadal vision in October last year, In-Space projected space sector revenue to grow to $44 billion by 2033 and account for 8% of global space revenues—up from a meagre 2% in end-2022. A large part of this revenue is set to be driven by NSIL’s ability to win commercial deals, and the scaling-up of modular rockets such as the SSLV.

In March last year, Mint reported that NSIL could look at scaling up the SSLV to launch up to 10 commercial missions per year by end-2026. The small launcher is expected to offer on-demand satellite launch services, an increasingly critical service for global satellite analytics and communications services.

India’s space economy is also expected to be bolstered by private firms such as Digantara and Dhruva Space, which are tipped to capture increasing segments of global satellite and space-driven services around the world. Key to proliferating India’s space economy is boosting exports of space services, which were at a minuscule $300 million at end-2023. In the next decade, export revenue is tipped to rise to $11 billion.

The US remains the consistent leader in space services, with firms such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Project Kuiper being key stakeholders. Others, such as France’s Arianespace, are key stakeholders of the space economy, of which Indian entities seek to capture a larger share. Livemint

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