Space startup Pixxel readies two satellites to relay data to help farmers

Space startup Pixxel readies two satellites to relay data to help farmers

Space startup Pixxel is awaiting a launch date from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to send the first two satellites of its hyperspectral imagery constellation to orbit.

Awais Ahmed, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Pixxel, said, “We are ready with our first satellite, which is currently going through a series of re-tests. We’re waiting for the ISRO PSLV-C53 mission to get on the Launchpad, which should be ready by December 2021 or soon afterwards”.

“Our second satellite is also completely built and is in the final testing stage. We hope to launch it around March 2022,” he added. According to Ahmed, by the end of 2023, Pixxel plans to build a constellation of 36 satellites.

Ahmed said demand for hyperspectral imaging in India is at a very nascent stage at the moment. “We have a few clients in agri-tech who will use our data and compile it to provide advisories to farmers in terms of crop patterns, fertilizer usage and so on. Large agro-forestry companies have also shown interest, while specific central and state government departments are also some that we are already working with,” he said.

According to Ahmed, there has been tangible growth in the availability of support for a private space entity in the country. “For instance, we got to test our satellites at the U.R Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru. We have also worked with the National Remote Sensing Centre to set up the data processes for our software offerings,” he said.

Despite the growing interest, Ahmed said that India’s space-tech ecosystem is still a decade behind other nations. “We are at least 5-10 years away in terms of the overall ecosystem in terms of what European or American space-tech startups are doing right now. We require more funding and better regulatory clarity for more projects to be undertaken in space-tech in India,” he said.