Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), a flagship initiative of the Ministry of Defence, has reached a milestone with the signing of its 250th contract on Monday, officials said.
This was also the first contract signed under Mission DefSpace, the ministry said in a statement. “The first iDEX contract of Mission DefSpace was exchanged between Additional Secretary (Defence Production) and CEO Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) T Natarajan, and CEO, InspeCity, Arindrajit Chowdhary, one of the winners of the challenge ‘Micropropulsion system for cubesats’. This challenge is being led by the Defence Space Agency,” the ministry said in the statement.
It said iDEX has “reached a milestone with the signing of its 250th contract – first under Mission DefSpace – and 100th SPRINT (Navy) contract in New Delhi on May 15”.
The contracts were signed in the presence of Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane and other senior civil and military officials.
Cubesats are a class of small satellites which are modular, low-cost, easy to manufacture, integrate, and launch, and form a critical component for launch-on-demand capabilities.
For imagery, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance communication purposes, cubesats need to be precisely aligned, hence there is a requirement of a compact micropropulsion system for precise manoeuvring and orbit correction, according to the statement.
InspeCity is developing a gas-based system for this purpose. This technology, once developed, can be integrated with other satellites, including the cubesat swarm being developed under Mission DefSpace, it added.
Recognising the strategic significance of the space domain, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched Mission DefSpace with 75 defence space challenges to be addressed by the private sector during DefExpo in Gandhinagar in October 2022. It aims to nurture the Indian private space industry through challenges addressing every stage of a space mission — from mission planning to satellite data analytics, officials said.
“Siliconia Technologies Pvt Ltd is the winner of the challenge which envisaged the development of a prototype that is a lightweight ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) based communication system using software defined antenna for Low Earth Orbit, Medium Earth Orbit and Geostationary satellite communication. The solution by Siliconia can provide multiple independent receiver/ transmitter sources that are essential in phased-array radars, typically used in satellite tracking,” it said.
It may be recalled that under the ‘SPRINT’ initiative, a total of 75 challenge statements for the Indian industry were unveiled by Prime Minister Modi during the Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) seminar ‘Swavlamban’ on July 18, 2022.
The initiative aims at inducting at least 75 technologies and products into the Indian Navy by August 2023 as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the statement said.
“The iDEX achieved the milestone of signing its first and 50th iDEX SPRINT contracts under DISC-7 in October 2022 and January 2023 respectively and within a few months the 100th SPRINT (Navy) contract was exchanged,” it added.
Till date, iDEX has received more than 7,500 applications from individual innovators, MSMEs and start-ups under various categories of challenges like DISC, Prime and Open Challenge. The iDEX has also been able to generate thousands of jobs and attract India’s talent back to the country, the minstry said.