Elon Musk’s world-renowned space exploration company pioneering in aerospace manufacturer, space transportation services and communications- SpaceX- is planning to partner with local companies to manufacture satellite communications equipment in India itself. The move comes amid SpaceX’ gears up to launch its high-speed Starlink satellite-based commercial broadband services in India by 2022.
In the first official meeting of SpaceX executives and Department of Telecommunications (DoT) secretary, Anshu Prakash on Monday, Matt Botwin, director (market access with the Starlink program) said, “SpaceX is excited to find ways to work together with the Indian industry for manufacturing products for its Starlink devices”.
Botwin added that SpaceX always looks for opportunities to maximize the efficiency of Global Supply Chain networks and will look forward to work with its partners in India to recognize those opportunities.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had met several global companies’ executives to discuss local manufacturing of satellite communications gear and ways to create an enabling regulatory regime for global low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation operators to establish in-country gateways.
Others present in the meeting were officials from OneWeb, Viasat, Hughes, Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea along with representatives from government institutions like the Department of Space and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
India’s satellite-based communications space is heating up as companies such as SpaceX, Bharti Global-backed OneWeb, and Jeff Bezos-led Amazon’s Project Kuiper look eagerly to enter India’s nascent satellite broadband space starting next year.
During the meeting, Botwin also said that “SpaceX has been working with the Indian industrial sector for a long time, buying steel and steel-tubing for many of its rockets.” It is now committed to manufacturing hardware and satellite components and components of satellite broadband networks in India, he said.
Recently SpaceX has started accepting pre-orders for Starlink for a fully refundable deposit of $99 (around Rs 7,300) and plans to launch it in India in 2022, according to the company’s own website, but there is a caveat to their dream. It is subjected to regulatory approvals from the Government which may delay the project.