The vehicle, named as a tribute to the father of India’s space programme, Vikram Sarabhai, marks the entry of the emergence of the private sector in the space race, ending the monopoly of ISRO.
Symbolising a new start, the mission has been named ‘Prarambh’ (the beginning). Vikram-S was developed by four-year-old startup Skyroot Aerospace. The space segment was thrown open to private players in 2020.
Currently, 80% polar satellite launch vehicles are manufactured locally under the ISRO or Defence Research Development Organisation’s manufacturing programmes.
Here is all you need to know about Skyroot and its rocket Vikram-S:
- Skyroot Aerospace is the largest funded private space startup in India. It was founded in June 2018 by former Isro scientists Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka
- Skyroot Aerospace aims to “open space for all”. It successfully raised $51 million through a Series-B financing round, in September this year. It had raised $11 million in Series-A capital raise in July last year
- Skyroot has successfully built and tested India’s first privately developed cryogenic, hypergolic-liquid, and solid fuel-based rocket engines using advanced composite and 3D-printing technologies
- It is backed by GIC of Singapore, Anil Kumar Chalamalasetty and Mahesh Kolli, founders of Greenko; entrepreneur Mukesh Bansal, founder of Myntra and Cult.fit; Laxmi and Aditya Mittal family office; and Solar Industries
- Skyroot Aerospace was the first startup to ink a memorandum of understanding with ISRO
- Skyroot with its strong India ecosystem connect, imbibing innovative and digital manufacturing processes and optimal material usage is bringing down launch costs by 50% compared to leading global players
- Vikram-S took about two years to develop and was built using advanced technologies such as carbon composite structures and 3D-printed components
- Vikram-S, which will be powered by India’s first carbon-fibre-built solid fuel engine, was initially slated for launch on November 15, but was finally given clearance for launch on November 18 by space regulator IN-SPACe
- Vikram-S was slated to soar to a height of 81 km and splash down in less than five minutes
- The company’s co-founder Chandana said that the Vikram-S rocket is a scaled-down version of the Vikram-1 rocket. The former is a single-stage rocket whereas the latter is a multi-stage vehicle.
“Almost all our systems flying in Vikram-S were designed in-house, except for few sensors which were imported,” Chandana said.
The company plans to have three rocket variants: Vikram I – payload or carrying capacity 480 kg to 500 km low inclination orbit (LIO); 290 kg to 500 km sun-synchronous and polar orbit (SSPO); Vikram II – 595 kg to 500 km LIO, 400 kg to 500 km SSPO and Vikram III – 815 kg to 500 km LIO, 560 kg to 500 km SSPO.
Chandana said Vikram-1 is expected to fly during the third quarter of the calendar year 2023.