Space startups sign MoUs with Isro to use govt geospatial data

The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) has facilitated the signing of 10 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) between private Indian companies, and the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro). The MoUs cover a range of applications, which include the use of Isro’s geospatial data for use in a proprietary platform.

The signing of MoUs took place at the inauguration of IN-SPACe’s headquarters in Ahmedabad, Gujarat on Friday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Home minister Amit Shah and Isro chairman S Somanath among others were present on the occasion.

One of the companies that signed MoUs with Isro was private Indian geolocation startup Pataa, which will use the central Indian space agency’s geospatial data and services to offer its digital short-code-based address and navigation tools. Pataa will use Isro’s information to create satellite imagery-based digital addresses, as part of its mapping and navigation platform.

The platform will be used to serve various geolocation tools operated by Isro, which include Bhuvan, a web browser-based mapping platform, Visualization of Earth observation Data (Vedas) – a platform that uses optical, microwave and hyperspectral satellite data to create maps of earth for use in agricultural, air quality monitoring and other purposes, and Meteorological and Oceanographic Satellite Data Archival Centre (Mosdac) – Isro’s oceanography and meteorological mapping service.

IN-SPACe is a government undertaking that was launched in June 2020, and is the go-to body for private Indian companies operating in space, satellite imagery and related fields, to gain resources and expertise from the central space agency of India, Isro. The entity will exist alongside newly established public sector undertaking (PSU), New Space Indian Limited (NSIL), which has been tasked with gaining private contracts from around the world to be executed by Isro.

For instance, NSIL will be the facilitator to receive orders from companies around the world to launch their satellites aboard Isro’s rockets. IN-SPACe, meanwhile, will be tasked with helping private space startups in India to get access to research facilities, data and related infrastructure from Isro.

Anil Prakash, director general of industry body Satellite Industry Association of India (SIA-India) said that IN-SPACe will be “key to addressing the needs and demands of the private space industry, start-ups, and the educational and research institutions.”

Fellow industry body, Indian Space Association (ISpA), said that the establishment of IN-SPACe can help facilitate more such MoUs, and help increase India’s share of the global private space economy. Lt Gen Anil Kumar Bhatt, director general of ISpA, said that India’s share of this market is “only around 2% currently.”

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