Armed with encyclopaedias to explore space, galaxies and the universe, Awais Ahmed aspired to become an astronaut since he was a little boy.

After joining BITS Pilani for engineering, he joined a student satellite team that worked on satellites with ISRO scientists.

In his second year of college, inspired by Elon Musk, he founded Hyperloop India in 2016 along with a few others.

Participating in a competition by SpaceX, his team manufactured a hyperloop pod with limited resources and went to the SpaceX factory in Los Angeles.

“When I saw the Falcon 9 rocket there, I was mesmerised. I realised that space was my calling and that I wanted to make a lifelong career in it. I wanted to explore how space can be used to contribute to the betterment of the planet,” adds the entrepreneur.

He started digging deep into space technology and found satellite imagery to be an area that could be explored.

He zeroed in on hyperspectral imaging satellites and launched Pixxel in February 2019 with Kshitij Khandelwal and two other engineers.

Their goal is to create and launch a group of advanced imaging satellites called hyperspectral imaging satellites. These satellites would be capable of capturing images of every location on Earth every day.

Additionally, Pixxel aims to develop a planet-wide health monitoring system.

Pixxel monitors the pulse of the planet. Awais adds that with the help of the information captured by the satellites, it can help companies make better decisions for their businesses.

“For example, when fertiliser companies buy our data, they can find out where nitrogen is lacking in the soil by using a nutrient map. Companies can also check the performance of their crops and identify areas where crop diseases are more prevalent,” he says.

Its clients are spread across various fields like agriculture, oil and gas, mining and environmental businesses.

Pixxel has launched three satellites so far and is gearing up to launch six more this year. In April 2022, it launched ‘Shakuntala’ on the SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket, becoming one of the first Indian companies to launch a commercial satellite.

Earlier this month, Pixxel inaugurated a 30,000 sq ft Spacecraft Manufacturing Facility in Bengaluru.