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HomeNationSkyroot Aerospace Is Set To Launch India’s First Private Rocket

Skyroot Aerospace Is Set To Launch India’s First Private Rocket

Skyroot Aerospace is set to launch India’s first private rocket between 12 and 16 November from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro) Sriharikota launchpad. Skyroot Aerospace is a Hyderabad-based private space startup company.

Sriharikota Launchpad
Sriharikota Launchpad

The rocket Vikram-S will be the first space launch vehicle manufactured and operated entirely by a private company in the country making this the first launch of its kind since the union government opened up the space sector for private industry participation in June 2020.

The final date of the launch mission will be confirmed depending on the prevalent weather conditions during the mentioned launch window. Naga Bharath Daka, chief operating officer of Skyroot, confirmed in a statement that the launch mission will be a suborbital spaceflight, and will carry three customer payloads to the intended orbit.

Typically, a suborbital spaceflight refers to a height of around 100km from the Earth’s surface and is done at a lower altitude than an orbital flight, which reaches at least a low-Earth orbit between around 200km to 2,000km from Earth.

Suborbital flights are known to be necessary for conducting tests of space missions before final commercial assignments take place.

The names of the customer payloads were not revealed.

Skyroot Aerospace, which has so far raised $68 million, is India’s most funded private space startup, and among the first companies to locally build fully 3D-printed rocket engines successfully testing the same in November last year. Earlier this year, on May 19, the company also tested Kalam-100 an indigenously built solid-fuel engine.

Pawan Kumar Chandana, chief executive of Skyroot Aerospace, told the media that the Vikram-S launcher, which would be the firm’s first demonstrator mission, will use a different engine in its rocket stages, called Kalam-80. The engine will “demonstrate the composite fiber built solid fuel motor technology that will be used in all Vikram series launch vehicles.”

To be sure, every rocket has multiple stages, each of which uses its own engines to power a launch mission. Skyroot, alongside fellow private space firm Agnikul Cosmos, has built and tested engines for their rocket stages over the past two years.

On 13 July, Agnikul opened its own 3D printing rocket engine factory. Srinath Ravichandran, chief executive of the firm, told at the time that such a facility will help private firms in India step up the ability to match anticipated demand for satellite launches from around the world, as private rocket launches from India become more frequent.

Earlier, Pawan Kumar Chandana had told the media that while Skyroot presently partners with vendors in Bengaluru and Chennai to 3D print and manufacture its rocket engines, the company will consider setting up its own facility in the near future as well.

Private space startups in India are betting on increasing global demand for launch missions, which companies such as Skyroot and Agnikul will hope to capture more of. In June this year, Anil Prakash, director-general of industry body Satellite Industry Association of India (SIA), told that over 60,000 satellite launch missions may take place by 2025, of which India may capture a larger pie thanks to increased private sector participation.

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