The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has opened its UR Rao Satellite Centre for testing satellites developed by the private sector for the first time in its history.

According to local reports, satellites developed by Indian start-ups SpaceKidz India and Pixxel (incorporated as Sygyzy) were tested at the centre.

In the upcoming months, the two companies will also test their engines at the Sriharikota spaceport and Thiruvananthapuram rocket centre.

ISRO spokesperson Vivek Singh was quoted by the Hindustan Times as saying: “There have been several firms that have worked with ISRO in the past, but these firms are into manufacturing satellites. They are almost through with their development. In our next PSLV launch, they could be our co-passengers.”

The step comes after the organisation opened its facilities for private companies last June.

A new independent body called Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) was also formed to oversee the actions of the private entities in the space sector.

All decisions by IN-SPACe will be binding for ISRO and other private sector entities.

Later this month, ISRO is scheduled to launch commercial satellites in the PSLV C-51 mission. It will carry the Brazilian satellite Amazonia-1, along with 20 passenger satellites.

Last December, ISRO launched its latest communication satellite, the CMS-01, using the PSLV-C50 from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.