TAMPA, Fla. — Voyager Space is considering using India’s proposed Gaganyaan crewed spacecraft to serve the commercial space station it aims to be operating by the end of the decade.

The Denver-based space technology provider announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) July 10 with India to explore using Gaganyaan, among other potential collaborations to deepen ties with the country’s space industry. 

The MoU paves the way to other partnerships across exploration, research, and commercial activities, Voyager chief revenue officer Clay Mowry said.

India expects to perform Gaganyaan’s first crewed flight no earlier than 2025 following delays that have pushed out its schedule by at least three years.

The MoU with India is Voyager’s first with a crewed spacecraft provider outside the United States, Mowry told SpaceNews.

He said Voyager is working with multiple undisclosed providers to supply crew and cargo services for Starlab, which would use a standard docking system aiming to be compatible with various spacecraft.

“We are targeting our single-launch configuration to be operational in 2028,” he added.

India partnerships

Gaganyaan would launch to low Earth orbit on a version of India’s heavy-lift Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark 3.

Voyager announced a separate MoU July 7 to explore launch and deployment opportunities for small satellites orbited by two smaller Indian rockets: The Small Satellite Launch Vehicle and Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, or SSLV and PLSV.

Voyager’s customers have previously flown payloads on two PLSV missions, according to the company, which said the deal further expands their access to space. 

The agreement also enables Voyager to study using space-qualified components from the recently created commercial arm of India’s space agency, covering spacecraft manufacturing, deployment, operations, and other areas of interest.

Voyager offers a broad range of space technologies following a series of acquisitions since being founded four years ago, ranging from laser and radio frequency communications systems to mission-data transmitters and cameras.

The company announced its latest acquisition March 13 in a deal for engineering company ZIN Technologies, known for microgravity research equipment that Voyager said would support plans for its Starlab space station.

Under development in partnership with Lockheed Martin, Starlab is one of three commercial concepts in the running to help NASA transition from the aging International Space Station.

In January, Voyager said Airbus is also providing technical design support and expertise for the project, potentially making it easier for European governments to use Starlab.

Voyager’s partnerships in India come as the country relaxes regulatory rules over its commercial space sector and the involvement of foreign businesses.

During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the United States, the two countries also announced plans to create a strategic framework for human spaceflight cooperation by the end of the year. The plans include a joint effort to the International Space Station in 2024 that has yet to be detailed.

Efforts to galvanize India’s space industry also include plans by the Indian Space Research Organization to auction off SSLV to the private sector, reported the country’s Economic Times July 9, citing an unnamed senior official at the space agency.

Capable of carrying up to 500 kilograms to mid-inclination low Earth orbits, SSLV is designed to be cheaper and more flexible than its two larger Indian cousins for deploying small payloads.

After failing to reach orbit in its August debut, SSLV’s second flight successfully placed three satellites into low Earth orbit in February.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...