Bengaluru firm building ‘expandable space habitat’, in talks with Musk’s SpaceX | India News

BENGALURU: At a time India’s aspirations of having a sustainable human presence in space is taking shape in the form of Gaganyaan and Bhartiya Antriksh Station (BAS) programmes, a Bengaluru start-up is proposing “expandable space habitat”.
The company — Akashalabdhi — recognised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), has set its sights on creating the next generation of living quarters for astronauts, researchers, and potentially even space tourists.Having began its work at IIT-Roorkee, the firm, from Nov 2023, has been incubated at IISc and is headquartered in Bengaluru.
A prototype model of the habitat dubbed ‘Antariksh HAB’ is ready. The final version is being designed to accommodate six to 16 personnel and will have an innovative structure that promises superior protection against orbital debris and radiation while boasting versatility.
Current space habitats, like the International Space Station (ISS), have long grappled with issues of scalability, cost-efficiency, and limited living space. Pointing out that the ISS, weighing a staggering 4.2-lakh-kg and costing $155 billion to launch and assemble over 15 years, exemplifies the economic and logistical hurdles of traditional space structures, the firm says its product can be launched as a compact habitat and will later inflate in space.
Siddarth Jena, CEO, Akashalabdhi, told TOI: “Once in the intended orbit of around 1,100km, it will take around seven days for the habitat to fully inflate. We’ve used seven layers to build the habitat and there are special materials. We have a patent for design, and are awaiting a patent for materials used and processes. So at this juncture, we cannot comment on those aspects.”
He said some critical testing — wind tunnel, radiation, shape test etc — have been carried out at Isro facilities, while some other tests will require the firm to use facilities outside of India. “We’re in talks with Nasa-JPL for tests like burst pressure and microgravity longevity.”
A crucial aspect of this project is the development of closed-loop life support systems — advanced systems to recycle air, water, and waste, creating a self-sustaining environment, Jena said, adding that work on this is progressing too. “Sustainability is another key focus. Given that we use soft materials, it reduces the possibility of space debris generation by 82% in comparison to solid fixed structures,” he said.
The habitat’s volume could range from 80 to 330 cubic metres, depending on customer needs. “This scalability could potentially support a variety of missions, from orbital research to lunar surface exploration. In fact, we aim to become the world’s first ‘Space Real Estate Company,’ proposing a novel business model based on volume rather than area. We envision multiple revenue streams, including leasing habitat space to govt agencies, research institutions, and even space tourism operators,” Manoj Mohan, chief business officer, Akashalabdhi, said.
Manjesh Mohan, the chief financial officer, said that the modular nature of the habitat’s design was a game-changer, allowing for future expansion and reconfiguration to suit various missions and crew sizes. “This adaptability extends to maintenance and repairs, with individual components easily replaceable or upgradeable,” he said.
Manoj added that the firm is aiming to launch its first habitat by 2027 if all goes as planned. “SpaceX has a launch programme that could enable our launch and we are negotiating a slot as we speak,” he said
At a time India’s aspirations of having a sustainable human presence in space is taking shape in the form of Gaganyaan and Bhartiya Antriksh Station (BAS) programmes, a Bengaluru start-up is proposing “expandable space habitat”.
The company — Akashalabdhi — recognised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), has set its sights on creating the next generation of living quarters for astronauts, researchers, and potentially even space tourists. Having began its work at IIT-Roorkee, the firm, from Nov 2023, has been incubated at IISc and is headquartered in Bengaluru.
A prototype model of the habitat dubbed ‘Antariksh HAB’ is ready. The final version is being designed to accommodate six to 16 personnel and will have an innovative structure that promises superior protection against orbital debris and radiation while boasting versatility.
Current space habitats, like the International Space Station (ISS), have long grappled with issues of scalability, cost-efficiency, and limited living space. Pointing out that the ISS, weighing a staggering 4.2-lakh-kg and costing $155 billion to launch and assemble over 15 years, exemplifies the economic and logistical hurdles of traditional space structures, the firm says its product can be launched as a compact habitat and will later inflate in space.
Siddarth Jena, CEO, Akashalabdhi, told TOI: “Once in the intended orbit of around 1,100km, it will take around seven days for the habitat to fully inflate. We’ve used seven layers to build the habitat and there are special materials. We have a patent for design, and are awaiting a patent for materials used and processes. So at this juncture, we cannot comment on those aspects.”
He said some critical testing — wind tunnel, radiation, shape test etc — have been carried out at Isro facilities, while some other tests will require the firm to use facilities outside of India. “We’re in talks with Nasa-JPL for tests like burst pressure and microgravity longevity.”
A crucial aspect of this project is the development of closed-loop life support systems — advanced systems to recycle air, water, and waste, creating a self-sustaining environment, Jena said, adding that work on this is progressing too. “Sustainability is another key focus. Given that we use soft materials, it reduces the possibility of space debris generation by 82% in comparison to solid fixed structures,” he said.
The habitat’s volume could range from 80 to 330 cubic metres, depending on customer needs. “This scalability could potentially support a variety of missions, from orbital research to lunar surface exploration. In fact, we aim to become the world’s first ‘Space Real Estate Company,’ proposing a novel business model based on volume rather than area. We envision multiple revenue streams, including leasing habitat space to govt agencies, research institutions, and even space tourism operators,” Manoj Mohan, chief business officer, Akashalabdhi, said.
Manjesh Mohan, the chief financial officer, said that the modular nature of the habitat’s design was a game-changer, allowing for future expansion and reconfiguration to suit various missions and crew sizes. “This adaptability extends to maintenance and repairs, with individual components easily replaceable or upgradeable,” he said.
Manoj added that the firm is aiming to launch its first habitat by 2027 if all goes as planned. “SpaceX has a launch programme that could enable our launch and we are negotiating a slot as we speak,” he said

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