Foreign entity avails Isro concessions under garb of Indian startup: report
23 February 2021
A “foreign” company, masqurading as an Indian start-up is availing concessions provided by the Indian Space Research Orgabisation to send a satellite to space under the industry collaboration programme of the state-run space agency, says a report in the Sunday Guardian,
Pixxel Space Technologies Inc, which will be sending a satellite to space on Isro’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), along with 20 other satellites, is the subsidiary of a foreign company, says a report in the Sunday Guardian.
Pixxel Space Technologies Inc, whose legal name is Syzygy Space Technologies, is defined as a “subsidiary of a foreign company, as per the documents filed with the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA),” the Sunday Guardian quoted one of its founders, Awais Ahmed, as saying.
Isro is scheduled to launch the satellite, named “Anand”, which has been built by the so’called Bengaluru-based space startup, Pixxel Space Technologies, along with its own and 19 other commercial satellites aboard its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C51 (PSLV-C51), on 28 February.
This way Isro will be extending the benefits and concessions being provided to Indian start-ups to foreign entities as well.
Ahmed did not name the parent company of Syzygy space while replying to Sunday Guardian’s query seeking the name of the parent “foreign company.” He did not elaborate on the parent.[-subsidiary issue, the report added.
Ahmed, while responding to another query from The Sunday Guardian, regarding whether or not Pixxel (or Syzygy) has availed any kind of concession that is provided by Isro, Government of India, to startups especially for the launch of “Anand”, stated that: “Our commercial agreements with other commercial entities such as GK Launch Services, NSIL or SpaceX et al are the company’s internal information, which I believe you would understand.”
No details are available about the identity of Pixxel’s foreign parent company. The issue of “lack of clarity on the foreign entity” of which Pixxel is a part of, has been raised at relevant platforms by a senior government official.
Also, the data downloading facilities that satellite “Anand” will be using are not based in India, despite the satellite using an Indian government platform and assistance from the Government of India to place its satellite in space.
In November 2019, the Bengaluru-based Pixxel announced that it had signed an agreement with Italian firm Leaf Space for launching the first of its 24 earth imagery satellites in July next year. Through this agreement, Leaf Space will provide the support service to the satellite launched by Pixxel.
In their application filed with the US Federal Communications Commission, which is an independent agency of the United States government that regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable across the US, Pixxel founder Nadeem Alduri Awais Ahmed and Khandelwal Kshitij Gokul, have given its mailing address as Palo Alto, which is a city in California. In its filing with the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company has stated that it was incorporated in the state of Delaware, US.
In December last year, Pixxel entered into an agreement with NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL), a Government of India company under the Department of Space, to launch its first remote-sensing satellite on an Isro PSLV rocket. IN-SPACe, a body under the Department of Space (DOS), was established for enabling private players to undertake space activities in India. The Sunday Guardian said it had sent a detailed mail to officials at the Department of Space and to the chairman of Isro seeking their response on the matter, but has not so far received any response.