India's First Private Rocket, Vikram-S Successfully Launched

India’s First Private Rocket, Vikram-S Successfully Launched

After considerable anticipation and years of labour, India’s Space Agency has successfully launched the Vikram-S, giving the country’s commercial space industry a boost.

The sub-orbital rocket was launched by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) at 11.30 a.m. local time on Friday from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on India’s east coast.

After the successful launch, the chairperson of IN-SPACe, Department of Space, Pawan Goenka stated –

I am happy to announce the successful completion of mission Prarambh, ‘the beginning’ of Skyroot Aerospace. The rocket VKS [Vikram-S] took off at an LEA (launch elevation) of 80 degrees and azimuth of 100 degrees, achieved an altitude of 89.5 kilometers and a range of 121.2 kilometers — exactly what was planned by Skyroot Aerospace. All systems, as I can make out, worked as planned and Skyroot Aerospace has demonstrated capability of various subsystems that will go into the orbital launch vehicle,

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The Vikram-S is a single-stage, spin-stabilized solid propellant rocket with a mass of around 550 kg that was created by four-year-old firm Skyroot Aerospace. Three client payloads are carried, one of which is from a customer outside of India. The 6-meter-long rocket’s core construction is made entirely of carbon fibre and was built in under two years.

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The Hyderabad-based Skyroot’s debut demonstration mission is titled Prarambh, which translates to “the beginning” in Sanskrit. The start-up is creating a line of launch vehicles with Vikram Sarabhai, the man who started India’s space programme, as its namesake.

The Indian government approved reforms to the space industry in June 2020 and created the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) to make it possible for private businesses to utilize ISRO’s infrastructure. Additionally, New Delhi established NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) as the commercial arm of the space agency to collaborate closely with startups and the private sector to support space developments in the South Asian nation.

The privately-made solid rocket stage from India, developed by Skyroot, was successfully tested in a fire in December 2020.

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Skyroot was founded in 2018 by former ISRO scientists Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka.

Pawan Kumar Chandana stated –

We’re very excited to announce that we scripted history today by successfully launching India’s first privately developed rocket Vikram-S,

This Prarambh mission, as the name signifies, is the beginning of a new era in the Indian Space ecosystem. Team Skyroot dedicates this successful mission to Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, who boldly started the Indian space program in the 1960s and honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, who unlocked the space sector to the private players. And most importantly, we thank InSPACe and ISRO, all their teams and the dynamic leadership who enabled this mission in this most efficient way.

Additionally, it was the first company in the nation to agree to a Memorandum of Understanding with the ISRO in 2021 in order to launch its rockets.

The business has a valuation of $165 million and has received a total of $68 million, including $51 million in a Series B round led by Singapore-based GIC in September.

The Indian Space Association (ISpA) and Indian space entrepreneurs had raised over $245.35 million, of which $108.52 million was invested in 2022 alone. Along with private enterprises like Bharti Airtel and OneWeb as founding members, the organization has Skyroot as one of its members.

To boost private engagement and stimulate investment in the nation’s space industry, the government is now developing a new space policy.

According to ISpA Director General Lt. Gen. AK Bhatt –

A single sanction window and spectrum allotment for satellite-based communication services through the Department of Telecommunications are two problems that industry participants have brought up,

The government has also been urged by the industry participants to make incentives for foreign direct investment, as well as policies relating to taxes, import levies, and local production of space equipment that have not yet been addressed.

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