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The Indian space sector is witnessing a surge in private participation, with at least 10 companies expressing interest in building the country’s most powerful rocket, the LVM3. This initiative is driven by NSIL (New Space India Limited), the commercial arm of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation).

Last week, companies that purchased the Request for Qualification (RFQ) document attended a pre-bid meeting. NSIL will now shortlist a select few to participate in the bidding process.

Unlike the PSLV project where NSIL funded rocket construction by the HAL-L&T consortium, the LVM3 model might require private firms to invest their own capital. This shift is driven by the project’s long-term vision (12+ years) and the anticipated production of 4-6 rockets per year.

The PSLV model aimed to empower industries to build rockets independently. Now, with LVM3’s larger capital expenditure, we’re seeking proposals to see if industry can invest and become risk-sharing partners.

Major players like L&T, HAL, and Nagpur-based Solar Industries have shown interest. Participation extends beyond established giants, with smaller firms like Dhruva Space and mid-sized players like Alpha Design Technologies also vying for a spot. Interestingly, Skyroot, a startup partially owned by Solar Industries, participated in the pre-bid meeting despite not acquiring an RFQ themselves.

This strong industry response reflects the growing confidence and capabilities of the Indian private space sector. If successful, this collaboration between NSIL and private firms could usher in a new era of cost-effective and efficient launch capabilities for India’s space ambitions.