The Grahaa Story

October 2011 - Our informal journey in spacetech started a decade ago in 2011, when our current Mission Director Dr.Loganathan headed the team of 50+ students from SRM University to build SRMSat - which was one of the first student built satellites designed, developed and launched with the help of ISRO through PSLV-C18.

2015 - SRMSat designed and developed by Dr.Loganathan was one of the successful student satellites to be built and launched indigenously. In follow up to that mission, SRM University announced plans to launch a nano satellite to the moon way before Chandrayaan. The mission planning and simulation was lead by Dr. Loganathan. This mission intended to do research on the rocks on the Moon’s surface and understand their chemical composition. Even though the plans were stalled at a later point of time, the detailed project plan proved to beneficial to all the students who were hired to be part of the mission. 

March 2016 - Based on his contributions, Mr. Loganathan has been appointed as the Director of Space Programs at both NMIT and SRM University. He continued to motivate and guide students with his immense knowledge on designing and building nano satellites. He was invited as a guest speaker to share his experience at the SEDS India National Conference that happened in March 2016. 

October 2017 -  Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT University), Bhubaneswar, in association with ISRO hosted a workshop on “Development of Small Student Satellite”.  Dr.Loganathan was invited to be part of the expert panel to provide detailed insights on student satellite missions. It is to be noted that KIIT is ranked No. 1 among self-financing institutions of the country in the Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA), 2020 of the Union Ministry of Education. 

In parallel, by 2011, our Founder - Ramesh began his startup journey focusing on technology related communications. He had contributed to a lot of tech focused events, seminars and workshops for leading corporates across the globe. During routine interactions with his clients, he realised that space industry has been commercialised across the globe. It was evolving slowly with new startups coming up with innovative solutions both in the upstream and downstream. 

 

With a strong understanding of technology applications for larger good and with a good foothold in engineering system design, Ramesh decided to step into the spacetech sector during end of 2016 when all the market pointers were positive. To understand the market dynamics, he attended various conferences and spacetech related events throughout 2017. 
 

Connectech Asia conference delegation was a notable one as the event is amongst the largest platforms organised for the ICT industry in the Asia-Pacific region. It draws global industry brands to showcase emerging technologies. Satcomm asia was part of this event which primarily focuses on disruptions in spacetech. Earth based artificial satellites are used primarily for three verticals - communications, earth observation and navigation.

After a year of industry research under the above mentioned three verticals, various applications available in the market and the revenue potential, Ramesh engaged with Space Kidz India to learn and understand about nano satellites for educational and research purposes. 

 

Space Kidz India had already sent a femtosat to a sub-orbital trajectory through NASA's Terrier Orion sounding rocket back in 2017. They were educating and enabling school and college students about basics of space science and satellite engineering. 

 

The idea of spinning off a newspace startup was born after the mentoring sessions with dignified scientists from UR Rao Satellite Center - ISRO, Bangalore. There were lot of problems to be resolved when it came to space exploration and ISRO was putting tremendous efforts trying out everything possible to be a global player.

 

The success of Mangalyaan had already made ISRO one of the key players in the industry. Speaking to the scientists made him realise that ISRO was lining up its missions balancing the most relevant research activities with shoe string budgets simultaneously maintaining its global image.

January 2019 - When ISRO decided to do an experimental student mission, the default choice was Space Kidz India.  ISRO utilised the modified fourth stage (PS4) of PSLV C44 for this experimental mission. The SKI team had put in great efforts to procure various sub-systems and assemble the cubesat within a short notice of six days. Once assembled, KalamSat V2 went through a series of space qualification tests. Everything happened within couple of weeks and KalamSat V2 flew into low earth orbit during January 2019 along with MicroSat. 

February 2019 - Post KalamSat V2 launch, SKI team had lot of learnings. It made big news in the industry and academia. Immediately after that, Ramesh started working with Team CrescentSAT - a student payload from Crescent University, Chennai - to be tested with High Altitude Balloons (HAB). CrescentSAT had a full HD optical payload along with an NDVI (Normalised Difference Vegetation Index) camera.

February 2019 - Though they had keen interest, students had little to no experience about student driven space research and satellite payloads. So, the SKI team had to provide them a brief overview about space exploration, mission planning, satellites, orbits, satellite structures, various systems, sub-systems, support systems etc. over a series of sessions spanning 7 months from February till July. SKI also taught them spacecraft mechanisms, onboard computers, sensors & actuators, payload data handling, ground station setup and future trends. This is when Ramesh worked with couple of our present team members.

August 2019 - Taking up a commercial venture in spacetech were always in the cards, but to be a private player and to attract investments, we knew very well that we need to have solid on-ground applications that could bring in revenues. Having this in mind, we did in depth research while designing our missions. Given the three main verticals of satellite based applications, the SKI team decided to go ahead with earth observation payload given the technological alignment and understanding of the market dynamics. The below given images are from the HD Imagery payload tested by SKI team through Near Space Launch Vehicle (NSLV) launched via a High-Altitude Balloon (HAB) from Siruseri Chennai.

August 2019 - Part of the same mission was the hardware for Normalised Difference Vegetaion Index or NDVI. Since agriculture is a major sector in India, SKI team went ahead and tested the NDVI hardware. Below image is the basic output of NDVI test done by SKI team using HD imagery taken from High-Altitude Balloon (HAB) from Siruseri Chennai.

September 2019 - Based on experience and learnings, we pitched to Microchip and they invited us as an emerging startup to Spacetronics & Deftronics hosted by IESA at Bangalore. We were informed about various opportunities available for startups to engage with ISRO, DRDO and other Government nodal agencies during the conference.

October 2019 - Ramesh was invited to do a tech talk on “Democratisation of Space :: The Dawn of Space Race 2.0” at “The talk - Big Ideas” event at Kochi. He gave insights on commercial aspects of space business and how nano satellites open a plethora of opportunities for resolving various problems.

November 2019 - Grahaa (zSpaze technologies pvt. ltd.) was selected by Dept. Of Science & Technology (DST) - Govt. of India through PSG - STEPUP, to display our prototype nanosatellite at the India International Science festival 2019 at Kolkata. We had lot of learnings and met startups from across the length and breadth of the country. 

December 2019 - Based on our interactions with ISRO on behalf of SKI, Ramesh went as a delegate to the 8th International training program on Small Satellite Missions - with international delegates from ASEAN countries. The training was organised by United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and hosted by ISRO, URR Rao Satellite Center (URSC) & Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS), Dehradun. The program had great insights on overall Mission Planning and managing end-to-end opereations for any Satellite launch. It fast-tracked our learning curve and boosted our confidence to proceed with our commercial venture.

After this training program, Ramesh and Dr. Loganathan met to discuss about the commercial aspects. Grahaa space then properly shaped up into a full fledged commercial venture with clearly defined vision after the meeting. 

January 2020 - At this point, we were confident about the commercialisation part and Grahaa Space had formally shaped up. We knew very well that we have miles and miles to go. So, Ramesh kept continuing experimentations consistently in association with SKI team. The below image was of the imaging payload tested with High Altitude Balloon launched from Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), Vellore.

February 2020 -  We were also looking to validate our product offering so that we can gain investor confidence. We spoke to lot of potential customers in select sectors to understand their challenges, specific requirements and how we can make an impactful product. One of the potential sectors where we could have maximum impact and also generate good revenues is geospatial intelligence for smart city initiatives. With that in mind, we connected to Greater Chennai Corporation through our contacts.

February 2020 - We pitched the mockup portal with samples to Chennai Corporation Commissioner who is also the Chairman and Director of Chennai Smart City Limited. We explained them how usage of satellite images can have 3X the impact than utilising CCTV cameras throughout the city.

November 2020 - Based on our track so far and since Covid restrictions were liberalised, we got incubated at PSG - Science and Technology Entrepreneurial Park (STEP) located in the premises of PSG College of Technology. 

December 2020 - Presented our technical research paper titled “New Space and New Threats”  at NASSCOM Security, Education, Research and Innovation Conference - part of Annual Information Security Summit 2020 hosted by NASSCOM's Data Security Council of India in association with Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India. We came as runner up while Tata Advanced Systems Limited won it. 

For more details on our product proof of concept and how it can be used in your industry, please write to info@grahaa.com

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