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Space Machines Company, NewSpace India sign launch agreement at Indian Space Congress

Manufacturing News

Satellite manufacturer Space Machines Company has signed an agreement with an Indian government-owned company NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), which sets the stage for a second spacecraft launch two years from now.

In a statement on Thursday, Space Machines Company said the agreement with NSIL – which is the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation – comes ahead of a planned 2026 launch of Optimus aboard NSIL’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV). The MAITRI mission would also represent “a defining moment for both nations in the area of space collaboration”.

Rajat Kulshrestha, CEO and Co-Founder of Space Machines Company, and Radhakrishnan Durairaj, Chairman and Managing Director of NSIL, formally announced the Launch Service Agreement signing at India Space Congress 2024 at Delhi.

“By combining our innovative spacecraft capabilities with India’s proven launch expertise, we are not only strengthening the ties between our nations’ space sectors but also demonstrating our shared commitment to sustainable space operations,” said Kulshrestha.

An $8.5 million grant from the Australian Space Agency for Space MAITRI was announced in April. 

The mission concerns increasing levels of space debris around Earth. It will incorporate the 450-kilogram Australian-built Orbital Servicing Vehicle (Optimus), launched from India, and include input from Indian firms Digantara and Ananth Technologies, as well as The University of Adelaide, The University of Sydney, The University of Technology Sydney, LeoLabs, Advanced Navigation, and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

The initial Optimus vehicle was launched in March aboard a SpaceX rocket, though contact with the craft was lost.

“Like India, Australia’s commercial space sector is rapidly growing, and we are producing innovative space technologies that benefit life on Earth,” said Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo. 

“The mission will inspire future explorers and further enhance international cooperation in this critical domain.”

MAITRI is a Sanskrit word meaning friendship and goodwill.

Picture: a render of Optimus (supplied)

Further reading

Space Machines Company-led project awarded $8.5 million through International Space Investment India Projects

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