[IPG] India’s Rise to Space Powerhouse.

Warpspace Inc.
4 min readJul 25, 2023

INDO-PACIFIC GEOINTELLIGENCE (IPG), a conference on using geospatial information, including earth observation data, in India and the Pacific region, was held in Delhi, India, on June 6–7. It was hosted by Geospatial World, a company that has organized many conferences on geospatial information. The number of visitors was about 500–600 people in person, including the former director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the dean of the space policy department of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). A sub-event of the IPG was the “2nd India-Japan Space And Geospatial Business Summit,” a summit on space business between Japan and India.

Warpspace’s CSO, Mori Hirokazu, participated in the event onsite and told us what he saw in the event in this report.

The potential of India, a Space Powerhouse

On the first day of IPG, experts held panel discussions. Mori participated in the second of five-panel discussions, “Indo-Pacific and Evolving World Order”, as a moderator and panelist. The panel discussed the current status of space startups in Japan and India and their challenges. On the other hand, on the second day, geospatial information user groups gave presentations on different topics such as disaster prevention, defense, counterterrorism, and environment, etc. What caught Mori’s attention on the second day was that Indian geospatial information user groups actively described security-related content and their technological capabilities. The second day’s content was particularly noteworthy to Mori.

Security-related issues are inseparable from politics and extremely naive in confidentiality, and IPG actively exchanged opinions on these issues. For example, the introduction of a system that uses satellites to monitor Kashmir, a location under dispute with Pakistan and vital for India’s national security, and a system for geospatial information that was used to locate Osama Bin Laden, the suspected leader of Al Qaeda, was imposing. These examples show that India can effectively use geospatial information and has a mature market for geospatial information in India.

On the other hand, Mori says he was also surprised by the high level of technology, including the processing of earth observation data, among such geospatial information. The number of space start-ups based in India has already reached 100, more than in Japan. The Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), delivered a 500 kg payload to LEO(*1), and its development is remarkable.

With its economic growth accompanied by population growth, reasonable labor costs, and overwhelming technological capabilities, India must be addressed in the space industry in the future.

(*1[Reference: UchuBiz] First successful launch of India’s new SSLV rocket — capable of injecting up to 500 kg into LEO)

How should Japanese space startups get involved?

Given this background, India is still a desirable market from the perspective of Japanese space startups. However, labor costs and prices are meager in India, and few funds are available for the numerous Indian space startups. Therefore, when it comes time for Japanese startups to collaborate with India, their partners are inevitably limited to the Indian government. However, there are several barriers to this, Mori said. In the panel discussion, Mori stated the following.

There are often collaborations between private companies and government space agencies in the space industry, but there are few examples of private companies and foreign governments teaming up. This is because both governments and operators in both countries are aware of the challenges, especially between Japan and India, due to their operators’ culture, language, and enclosure.

If that challenge were resolved, it would allow for unprecedented synergies from projects sponsored by one country, such as the European Space Agency (ESA), to invest in and use technology from other countries.

Warpspace CSO, Mori, speaks at the panel discussion.

Through such a scheme, funds from the Indian government could flow to Japanese space startups, further stimulating space startups in Japan. In addition, new technologies and values could be created through interactions between Japanese and Indian private companies and their respective governments, such as when Indian space startups enter Japan and talented Indian personnel conduct research and development in Japan, which is then returned to India. On the other hand, the number of Japanese startups that have participated in the IGP still needs to grow, with only AXELSPACE and Synspective participating. However, even so, this IGP showed signs of mutual development between Japan and India through such global Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).

India is on the verge of becoming a space powerhouse. Warpspace will keep a closer eye on the market to play a central role in creating a new trend of space startups in India.

At the IGP, Mori was honored as someone who has played an important role in using geospatial information.

(Written by Junichiro Nakazawa)

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Warpspace Inc.

Warpspace develops “WarpHub InterSat”, an optical inter-satellite data relay service. We will realize this service for LEO Sat operators by 2025.