Another milestone achieved for Singapore’s space sector

Seven Singapore-made satellites were launched successfully from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on 30 July, further deepening space collaboration between the two countries.

The PSLV took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, off the coast of Andhra Pradesh in South India, and all seven satellites were successfully injected into their orbits less than 24 minutes after the lift-off.

The primary satellite on board this mission, which was dedicated entirely to Singapore, was DS-SAR, a 352kg radar imaging earth observation satellite developed through a partnership between Singapore’s Defence Science & Technology Agency and ST Engineering.

Once deployed and operational, it will support the satellite imagery requirements of various Singapore government agencies. The satellite, equipped with a radar payload developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, can provide all-weather, as well as day-and-night coverage, at a 1m resolution.

Another payload for the mission was the NuLIoN nanosatellite from NuSpace, a Singapore firm that provides Internet of Things connectivity across areas in the South-east Asia region with limited to non-existent communication infrastructure.

The rocket also carried the ORB-12 Strider satellite, developed under an international collaboration coordinated by Singapore-based space-tech company Aliena. It will demonstrate next-generation propulsion systems for small satellite constellations.

Other satellites on board this mission executed by NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), ISRO’s commercial arm, included those from Nanyang Technological University and National University of Singapore (NUS).

According to an NUS statement, its Galassia-2 nanosatellite was built by students and will help with remote sensing for agriculture and environmental change using a multispectral camera on board.

The mission follows the PSLV-C55 in April, which successfully launched two other Singapore-made satellites. To date India has launched over 425 satellites for 36 countries, including 20 Singapore-made satellites, and has been making efforts to gain a greater share of the global launch market, estimated to be USD9.15 billion.

The Indian government has also been making efforts to open up the space sector to private players in its bid to boost India’s share of the global space economy – valued at around USD460 billion – from 2% currently to 9% in 2030.

Last November, Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace became the first private company in India to successfully launch a rocket, the Vikram-S, after agreeing a tie-up with ISRO to tap its expertise and facilities. Skyroot’s biggest funder is Singapore’s sovereign fund GIC, which invested USD51 million in September last year for a stake of just under 25%.


Office for Space Technology and Industry

The global space industry grew by 8% in 2022 and is expected to reach over USD737 billion within a decade. Asia currently represents USD102 billion of a total global market value of USD417 billion and is the second-largest region after North America.

Although Singapore’s space ecosystem is relatively young, its growth is accelerating. In 2013, the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) established the Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn) to capture the economic opportunities and build a thriving space industry for Singapore.

In 2020, OSTIn received an expanded mandate to serve as Singapore’s national space office to develop the space industry, space technology and capability, space policy and regulations, space talent and workforce, and to grow international partnerships and strengthen global space governance.

With a strong focus in driving innovation, OSTIn also works closely with partners within and beyond the Singapore’s space ecosystem to develop key research capabilities and talent to enable sustainable growth of the satellite industry in Singapore.


Space Technology Development Programme

OSTIn’s SGD150 million flagship Space Technology Development Programme (STDP) seeks to develop space capabilities to support domains such as aviation, maritime and sustainability, which are critical to Singapore and many other countries, as well as disruptive space technologies that can improve the country’s space industry’s competitiveness.

Projects supported by the STDP include:

  • Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO) satellite technologies that will allow satellites to operate in orbits closer to earth and deliver differentiated capabilities.
  • Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) satellite solutions that will enable quantum-safe transmission of secure information.
  • Use of satellite data for applications such as carbon Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV), agriculture, pollution monitoring.

OSTIn is also exploring new opportunities emerging in the space economy, such as on-orbit servicing, in-space manufacturing and space life sciences, including whether Singapore’s strengths in domains like AI, robotics, materials science and life sciences can be pivoted to support space applications.

Singapore’s space sector now comprises over 2,000 professionals and researchers working in over 60 companies active in different sections of the entire value chain – from design and manufacturing to satellite-based services such as data processing.


The Global Space and Technology Convention

The Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC), held annually in Singapore since 2008 and organised by Singapore Space & Technology Ltd (SSTL), is Asia’s largest English-speaking space conference, attracting over 1,000 participants from around the world every year.

Established in 2007, SSTL is a non-governmental organisation that operates by connecting the different players in Asia’s growing space sector to government agencies, B2B and B2C technology companies. The focus is to accelerate the adoption and commercialisation of space-related innovations, and to cultivate space talent ahead of the curve.

GSTC 2023 featured a variety of initiatives designed to accelerate the space industry in Asia, better connect the region to the world and build Singapore as an influential space hub, buoyed by a series of significant Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) that SSTL has signed with leading and emerging space economies – the UK, Australia and Poland.


Singapore Space & Technology Ltd

SSTL signed an MoU with the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) at GSTC 2022 to facilitate a two-way deal flow of investment and trade between Singapore and UK-based space tech start-ups.

Chief among the achievements is a partnership between SSTL and In-Space Missions to organise Asia Pacific’s dedicated rideshare mission to help more companies and research institutes in the region to test their payloads in space and gain space heritage in a quicker, more affordable manner.

Singapore start-up Navigate Commodities has also entered a globally exclusive partnership with UK Earth Observation heavyweight Earth-i, in association with the European Space Agency (ESA), to develop real-time daily monitoring services for the steel smelting industry. In fact, the partnership has already created the world’s first and only system to monitor real-time steel smelting activity.

SSTL’s Accelerator Programme, which supports a portfolio of over 40 companies across 18 countries with a combined valuation of close to USD850 million, has recently welcomed four new start-ups from India covering the breadth of developing end-to-end solutions for difficult space missions to full-stack space-engineering solutions providers and cutting-edge Earth Observation satellite technology.

The rapid growth of the space industry is also putting pressure on the talent pipeline, creating demand for advanced STEM skillsets that are industry- and future-ready. Space Faculty, a spin-off of SSTL, brings together stakeholders across education, industry and government to chart the vision for the next phase of development in STEM education to enter high-value verticals like space, deep tech and advanced robotics.

“Space is no longer the final frontier but the first stop for innovation,” said Lynette Tan, CEO of SSTL and Managing Director of Space Faculty. “Experimenting, learning and leading in space is central for innovation in the future. So, we must connect the dots from passion to profession as early as possible, creating coherent pathways for the next generation of innovators, inventors and inspirational leaders.”

If you’re a company in the space sector and considering international expansion and global partnership options then Sovereign can help through its expertise in this sector.

Contact Andrew Galway
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