India is becoming ground zero for business startups involving space technologies such as more efficient space fuel and satellites the size of a hand. As space technology starts to appear in India, a lot of investors are beginning to keep a close watch on the new space race.

Bellatrix Aerospace, a startup based in Bengaluru, wishes to send satellites into orbit with the use of electrical thrusters with no toxic chemicals. Bellatrix co-founder Yashas Karanam states that he managed to raise over $3 million from investors for the ambitious project.

IDFC Parampara, a Venture capital fund, is currently spearheading the Series A round of the aerospace technology startup. Suman Kant Munjal, the billionaire owner of Indian motorcycle company Hero MotoCorp, is also among the list of investors for Bellatrix Aerospace. Bollywood star Deepika Padukone also placed her bet on the startup business’s success.

Kawa Space, a Mumbai aerospace technology startup business, is creating designs and operations for observation satellites. Speciale Invest managing partner Vishesh Rajaram states that Kawa Space already closed seed rounds in an undisclosed amount.

Kawa and Bellatrix belong to over ten Indian startup companies that are developing rockets, satellites, and support systems that can help space missions in a lot of different ways. The fundraising efforts raised by the businesses are a significant upgrade in India, which is enjoying a lead in the space programs over other countries for decades, but only the government is taking credit.

Online space items store co-founder Narayan Prasad shares that Bellatrix is currently enjoying the only venture capital funding that is helping space technology investments in India. No venture capital firms are investing in other startup businesses in India so far. Despite the lack of significant investments, there are over seven space technology firms in India that are funded, according to investors and Tracxn, a data tracker for startup companies.

Aerospace firms are currently trending in India because the low-earth orbit has activity. The 1,200 miles point north of the earth’s crust is closer to reach compared to the geostationary orbit, which is the home of many operational communications satellite. Smaller and cheaper-to-produce satellites are taking pictures of the earth for purposes like crop-monitoring, defense, urban planning, and geology. The spacecraft made by India’s startups manage to bring down costs while increasing each image’s frequency.


Startups Getting Noticed

Over 25 Indian startup businesses are turning over $1 billion valuations for the past five years, with most middle-class and at-home companies skyrocketing into unicorns. The space technology sector belongs in the mix, with investors paying more attention to it given the interest of space explorations around the world.

Jatin Desai, a Bellatrix investor, is gaining confidence in India’s aerospace plans because there are multiple satellite launches in the works for the coming years. Desai, an IDFC Parampara worker, believes that the potential market that India’s aerospace startups present is too beneficial to ignore. Consulting company Frost & Sullivan predicts that the years 2018 to 2030 will witness not less than 17,000 launched satellites into space.

Speciale Invest already invested in three separate Indian space startups. Rajaram believes that entrepreneurs will be looking at a lot of exciting times because of the money they can get from space companies launching satellites.

Despite the excitement surrounding the potential investment benefits with Indian aerospace technology, investors still avoid betting in large numbers. Venture capital funding companies like Maple Capital, Bharat Innovation Fund, Ideaspring Capital, and 3one4 capital are taking a passive approach when it comes to investing in space technology startups. Ideaspring managing partner Naganand Doraswamy believes that the gestation period will take a long time before an investor experience returns.

The long wait stems from the need of government approvals, correcting errors in development stages, and testing on space missions. Indian Space Research Organization, or the ISRO, is a monopoly when it comes to India-based rocket launching, including the one in the works for the country’s second lunar exploration. However, the ISRO remains controlled by the government.

Despite being controlled by the Indian government, startup firms can use the ISRO’s rockets and launch services to send their created satellites into orbit. Indian space startups remain hopeful that the government will pass the space law, which will provide startups with proper knowledge on how they can operate in space. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration is also trying to draft the Space Activities Bill, which will be beneficial for the many startup firms with their space technology.