Anirudh Sharma and his team were pleasantly surprised after Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself announced their much-awaited first space mission during his monthly Mann Ki Baat episode Sunday. Founders of ‘Digantara’, a Bengaluru-based space startup, Sharma, Rahul Rawat and Tanveer Ahmed are all geared up to launch their satellite on PSLV C53 on June 30 to understand radiation in space. Incubated out of Society for Innovation and Development (SID), Digantara found its mention by PM Modi in his latest monthly radio programme where he was impressed with their idea to map the space and also track space debris.
In a big push to encourage private participation in space programmes, PM Modi had inaugurated Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (INSPACe) in Gujarat, an independent nodal agency under the Department of Space to allow space activities and using of Department of Space-owned facilities by non-government private entities to private players in the sector. As a result, many space startups, including the Bengaluru-based Digantara and Astrome, made their way to the Prime Minister’s list of innovative space startups. Astrome pioneers in offering wireless fibre solutions for 5G and rural broadband. It has also developed GigaSat, a flat panel satellite terminal which supports communication in multiple frequencies and can form multiple simultaneous spot beams.
Anirudh Sharma, 23, a graduate of Lovely Professional University in Punjab, launched Digantara (which means space in Sanskrit) in 2018 even before completing his graduation. “During our college days my classmate Rahul and I were to build a satellite structure for a South American company. As a result, to raise the invoice, we had to incorporate Digantara. A deeper research into the problems in space, gave us a new dimension. We realised that the potential of exploring space traffic management and tracking space debris was huge. Our sensors detect space objects with the highest resolution and accuracy enabling it to detect over 18 times more space objects and also offer real-time space weather,” Sharma said.
According to Sharma, the junk and debris that emanate from rockets move in hyper velocity clocking a speed 15 times the bullet. “The debris lies in millions in the earth’s orbit and tracking them is vital to mitigate collisions. Just like how air traffic services (ATS) is important to the aviation sector, we want to leverage space technology and make Digantara critical to the traffic management solution in space,” said Sharma who is planning to expand his business to Europe.