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Aero India 2023

Pixxel wins defence ministry grant to build satellites for IAF

NEW DELHI (PTI):  Space startup Pixxel said it has won a multi-crore rupee grant from the government to build miniaturised multi-payload satellites for the Indian Air Force, marking its entry into the defence sector.

Under the grant from Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) of the Defence Ministry, Pixxel will develop small satellites of up to 150 kgs for electro-optical, infrared, synthetic aperture radar and hyperspectral purposes, a statement from the Bengaluru-based startup said on Tuesday.

"We are delighted to receive iDEX's grant and utilise our expertise of building microsatellites in-house to manufacture satellites externally for the first time," Awais Ahmed, CEO of Pixxel, said.

The grant is part of the SPARKS initiative under Mission DefSpace launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year with 75 Defence Space challenges in five buckets launch system, satellite system, communication and payload system, ground system, and software system, provide a holistic 360 degrees overview of space.

So far, Pixxel has launched commercial hyperspectral imaging satellites that provide earth-imaging services to its customers that include the US''National Reconnaissance Office.

Ahmed said the iDEX grant was a recognition of Pixxel's dedication to pushing the boundaries of space exploration and innovation.

"We are grateful for the trust placed in us and excited to embark on this next phase of collaboration with the Indian government," he said.

Vivek Virmani, Chief Operating Officer of iDEX-DIO, said the ministry was delighted to witness the remarkable evolution of startups in the Indian space industry, and Pixxel is a testament to the progress of private entities in this sector in such a short time.

"The grant is aimed at developing technologies addressing every stage of a space mission, right from mission planning and manufacturing to satellite data analytics and more," Virmani said.

"Our confidence in Pixxel's satellite manufacturing capabilities showcases the power of partnerships in advancing the use of satellite technology for the country. We congratulate Pixxel and look forward to working with them," he said.

The SPARK grants - offered to startups selected through the iDEX (Prime) & DISC initiatives - are aimed at catalysing innovation enabling Indian innovators and entrepreneurs to deliver technologically advanced solutions as well as propel deep-tech innovations in India.

Mission DefSpace also aims to encourage technology development in space for defence applications by startups and young entrepreneurs via various Defence Ministry initiatives including iDEX.

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