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Pixxel To Launch 24 Satellites In Next Two Years: CEO

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Pixxel To Launch 24 Satellites In Next Two Years: CEO


Bangalore-based spacetech start-up Pixxel plans to launch 24 satellites in the next two years, a top company executive said. Founded in 2019 by Awais Ahmed, the four-year old spacetech start-up is focussed on launching the first six of the 24-satellite constellation Fireflies in 2024 and 18 in 2025.

Pixxel was founded with a primary thesis that extant satellite data was not enough for advanced applications, which the start-up wanted to solve with hyperspectral imaging satellites, said Awais Ahmed, co-founder and CEO, Pixxel.

“We are a space data and analytics company. We are planning to launch world’s first hyperspectral satellite constellation of 24 more satellites starting next year and provide us with global coverage every day, which means we can cover every part on globe on a daily basis,” said Awais Ahmed, co-founder and CEO.

Some the biggest use cases for Pixxel are related to hyperspectral imagery for agriculture fertiliser makers, oil and gas companies, mines, and others. This data serves various purposes, including risk management, crop insurance, agricultural applications, and credit assessment.

Pixxel’s hyperspectral imaging satellites should be able to detect events and phenomena such as the invisible gas leaks, underground oil leaks, crop diseases and infestations, soil nutrient quality, and much more.

Hyperspectral imaging is a remote sensing technology, where an imaging spectrometer collects images at different wavelengths that go undetected in single-bandwidth imaging sensors. It is able to mark out areas on a satellite map using distinct colours in real-time and identify a wide spectrum of patterns.

The company has three satellites at present. While the spacetech start-up has launched 15 kg demo microsatellites so far, the first six satellites of the Fireflies series, set to launch in 2024, will weigh 50 Kg. The start-up plans to launch bigger satellites in the near future — even as large as 150 kg — to capture more data and cover wider use cases.

Pixxel’s imaging capabilities are 10X more than some of the other known names working in hyperspectral imaging today that deal with around 30 wavelengths. This allows the Indian company to capture data with more granularity and with a higher level of accuracy.

The company designs the satellites and nearly 50 per cent the work is done in India.

“We have a design team that has experienced doing this previously ISRO and other places and once we designed then the components come from around the globe. More than 50% of it is done in India, but there’s a significant portion about 40 per cent of it that has come from abroad because no one in India can completely built it in India,” he said.

The components that you use to build satellites are very unique, and there are only a few companies in the world that delves into components like that, he said.

“Most of our software is developed in house even though we procure some components all the designing and final integration and the final testing happens in Bangalore Facility. We do leverage some ISRO’s testing facilities, because they have a lot of infrastructure, but the designing, manufacturing, and testing is something that happens at our facility,” he added.

Headquartered in Bangalore, Pixxel has another office in Los Angeles. From an employee count of 15 people in 2021, Pixxel today has grown to a size of around 140 employees and majority of its business today comes from the US and Europe.

Besides private organisations, Pixxel works in collaboration with various governments around the world. In India, the startup signed an MoU with the Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (DA&FW) to collaborate on the development of geospatial solutions for the Indian agriculture sector. In this collaboration, Pixxel’s hyperspectral dataset will be used to develop solutions focused on crop mapping, crop stage discrimination, and crop health monitoring.

The start-up competes with the global players like Planet Labs, Orbital Sidekick. Recently, Bengaluru-based space start-up has raised $36 million in funding led by new investor Google. Other participants in the round included existing investors Radical Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Blume Ventures, GrowX, Sparta, and Athera Venture Partners.





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INS Arihant’s Nuke-Capable K-4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile ‘Ready To Roll’

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INS Arihant’s Nuke-Capable K-4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile ‘Ready To Roll’


NEW DELHI: India tested its nuclear capable K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), designed to have a strike range of 3,500 km, for the second time in six days on Friday. The missile test, as the one conducted on January 19, was undertaken from an undersea platform in the shape of a submersible pontoon off the coast of Andhra Pradesh according to a report by Rajat Pandit of TOI.

The solid-fuelled K-4 missile is being developed by DRDO to arm the country’s nuclear-powered submarines in the shape of INS Arihant and its under-development sister vessels. INS Arihant, which became fully operational in November 2018 to complete India’s nuclear triad, is currently armed with the much shorter K-15 missiles with a 750 km range.

“The K-4 is now virtually ready for its serial production to kick-off. The two tests have demonstrated its capability to emerge straight from underwater and undertake its parabolic trajectory,” said a source.

India has the land-based Agni missiles, with the over 5,000-km Agni-V inter-continental ballistic missile now in the process of being inducted, and fighter jets jury-rigged to deliver nuclear weapons. But INS Arihant gives the country’s deterrence posture much more credibility because nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuclear-tipped missiles are considered the most secure, survivable and potent platforms for retaliatory strikes.

Once the K-4 missiles are inducted, they will help India narrow the gap with countries like the US, Russia and China, which have over 5,000-km range SLBMs. The K-4 missiles are to be followed by the K-5 and K-6 missiles in the 5,000-6,000 km range class.

The 6,000-ton INS Arihant, which is propelled by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor at its core, in turn, is to be followed by INS Arighat, which was launched in 2017. The next generation of nuclear submarines, currently called S-4 and S-4*, will be much larger in size.





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After Upgradation, Sukhoi Su-30MKI Indigenisation To Reach 78%

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After Upgradation, Sukhoi Su-30MKI Indigenisation To Reach 78%


India has received clearance to upgrade 84 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets, which will result in 78% indigenization after the upgrade

In a significant step towards bolstering its military might with indigenously developed technology, India is poised to witness its Russian-origin Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets evolve into a domestic platform. Speaking at a recent lecture.

The upgrade program is being led by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in partnership with the Indian Air Force and other partners. The upgrade is expected to cost US$7.5 billion.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the upgrade. The upgrade is part of India’s efforts to improve the capabilities of its primary fighter aircraft, it refers to as the “Super Sukhoi”.

This initiative is a part of a larger effort by the Indian Air Force to modernize its ageing fleet. Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari asserted the critical role of an offensive air force as demonstrated in current global conflicts and emphasized India’s move towards an indigenized arsenal. To this end, the IAF has been proactive, from upgrading its Mirage 2000 to enhancing its MiG-29 fleet.

In summary, the IAF’s commitment to updating their combat forces with the latest technology, including shifting to fifth-generation fighter jets, ensures operational preparedness and a strong deterrence capability. The gradual indigenization of its air fleet marks a pivotal shift in India’s defence landscape, reducing dependency on foreign imports and fostering technological sovereignty.





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Akash Weapon System Exports For The Armenian Armed Forces Gathers Pace

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Akash Weapon System Exports For The Armenian Armed Forces Gathers Pace


According to unconfirmed reports, Armenia is a top contender for an export order for Akash SAM system manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).

While there is no official confirmation because of the sensitivities involved, documents suggest that the order for the same has already been placed the report further added.
There are nine countries, in turn, which have shown interest in the indigenously-developed Akash missile systems, which can intercept hostile aircraft, helicopters, drones and subsonic cruise missiles at a range of 25-km. They are Kenya, Philippines, Indonesia, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Vietnam and Algeria reported TOI.

The Akash export version will also be slightly different from the one inducted by the armed forces. The 100-km range air-to-air Astra missiles, now entering production after successful trials from Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, also have “good export potential”, said sources.

Akash is a “tried, tested and successfully inducted systems”. Indian armed forces have ordered Akash systems worth Rs 24,000 crore over the years, and MoD inked a contract in Mar 2023 of over Rs 9,100 crores for improved Akash Weapon System

BDL is a government enterprise under the Ministry of Defence that was established in 1970. BDL manufactures surface-to-air missiles and delivers them to the Indian Army. BDL also offers its products for export.

Akash Weapon System

The AWS is a Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM) Air Defence System, indigenously designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). In order to meet aerial threats, two additional Regiments of AWS with Upgradation are being procured for Indian Army for the Northern borders. Improved AWS has Seeker Technology, Reduced Foot Print, 360° Engagement Capability and improved environmental parameters.

The project will give a boost to the Indian missile manufacturing industry in particular and the indigenous defence manufacturing ecosystem as a whole. The project has overall indigenous content of 82% which will be increased to 93% by 2026-27.

The induction of the improved AWS into the Indian Army will increase India’s self-reliance in Short Range Missile capability. This project will play a role in boosting the overall economy by avoiding outgo of precious foreign exchange to other countries, increasing employment avenues in India and encouraging Indian MSMEs through components manufacturing. Around 60% of the project cost will be awarded to the private industry, including MSMEs, in maintaining the supply chain of the weapon system, thereby creating large scale of direct and indirect employment.





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