Space exploration is fast-turning into a lucrative frontier globally. Major countries are rampring up their space programmes to gain a solid foothold in the emerging sector. Some US entreprenuers have already launched their rockets into space. But their Indian counterparts are not far behind.
A start-up from Telangana is taking on the challenge. Skyroot Aerospace is set to launch India’s first privately developed rocket into space on November 18 during a launch window between 11:00-12:00 hrs from the launch facility at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
If successful, it will herald a new era of private space exploration in India.
What is Skyroot Aerospace?
The Hyderabad-based company, established in June 2018, is pioneering India’s first privately developed space launch vehicles. It recently announced plans to enter the space exploration market with its maiden launch initially scheduled for November 15. However, it had to delay it owing to bad weather. It received the technical clearance from IN-SPACe, which was set up under Department of Space to boost private space sector economy.
Vikram-S and Prarambh
Skyroot took about two years to develop the rocket using carbon composite structures and 3D-printed components. This mission will validate Skyroot’s technologies to carry up to 800 kg of payloads to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The mission is named ‘Prarambh’, meaning “The Beginning”.
The company has named rocket Vikram-S as a tribute to the founder of India’s space programme Dr Vikram Sarabhai. It is powered by the Kalam 80 propulsion system. The single-stage Vikram-S is a scaled down version of the multi-stage Vikram-1 rocket.
On November 18, Vikram-S will carry three payloads weighing a total of 80 kg. Two of them are reportedly for Indian customers and one for a foreign client. The rocket will climb to an altitude of 120 km above Earth’s surface to cross the Karman line (100 km) — an imaginary boundary where the space begins.
Skyroot Aerospace aims to launch its main workhorses — Vikram I, II, and III — after this demonstration. It has not given any launch windows for that but Vikram I is likely to launch in the second half of next year.
Skyroot says on its website that its Vikram series of rockets require minimal range infrastructure. Vikram I can be assembled and launched within 24 hours from any launch site and second and the thrid upgrades can be launched within 72 hours.
Market surveys expect the global space launch services market to grow from $14.21 billion in 2022 to $31.90 billion by 2029.
Skyroot says it expects more than 20,000 small satellites to be launched in the coming decade and aims to position itself as a serious player through mass producibility and affordability. “Launching satellites to space will soon become as easy as booking a cab – quick, precise and affordable!,” it adds.