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SkyRoot is also development a medium-lift launch vehicle to insert satellites into a polar orbit

Skyroot Aerospace is set to create history with the launch of India’s first privately developed rocket to space. Here’s why it’s a big deal for India

The Prarambh mission will witness the launch of the Vikram-S rocket. The mission is expected to launch in the second week of November. The Prarambh mission will witness the launch of the Vikram-S rocket. The Prarambh mission will launch from Sriharikota to an altitude of 120 km above planet

Skyroot Aerospace, a start-up based out of Telangana, has announced that it will launch India’s first privately developed rocket into space in November. The homegrown Vikram-S rocket will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, marking India’s advent into commercial space exploration.

The mission, dubbed Prarambh, is expected to launch in the second week of November on a demonstration flight with the Vikram-S launch vehicle and three separate payloads. The company will launch the fully powered Vikram-1 rocket after that.

What Is Prarambh Mission?

The Prarambh (which means beginning) mission will witness the launch of the Vikram-S rocket, a homegrown launch vehicle developed by the Telangana-based start-up Skyroot Aerospace. The rocket will carry three student-made payloads, including one by SpaceKidz India, which has been developed by students from several countries, including Indonesia.

The Prarambh mission will launch from Sriharikota to an altitude of 120 kilometers above the surface of Earth, officially crossing the Karmen line where space begins. The three-stage solid motor rocket is expected to carry around 80 kilograms of payload during the demonstration flight.

“SpaceKidz India is privileged to send a payload in this historic maiden mission of Skyroot, FunSAT, a 2.5 kg mass which was developed by students globally from the US, Indonesia, Singapore, and India. The highlight is that a few grandfathers have worked along with their grandchildren on the payload. True to our vision, we are making space accessible and economical for students who are enthusiastic to learn about it,” said Srimathy Kesa, founder of SpaceKidz India.

Sireesh Pallikonda, Business Development Lead, Skyroot told that the mission is aimed at setting the stage for the launch of Vikram-I launch vehicle with customer payloads. “The Vikram-1 rocket’s maiden launch is targeted in the Q2-Q3 of 2023 and we have customers already lined up for the mission,” he added.

While Prarambh is a demonstration mission, it is still a full-scale suborbital launch for the company, which aims to strengthen the private space sector in the company. The mission will validate the technology, engine, and designs of the Vikram rocket and demonstrate that it is capable of launching heavy payloads into Low Earth Orbit.

Skyroot has been developing three variants of the Vikram rocket. While the Vikram-I can carry 480 kilograms of payload to Low Earth Orbit, the Vikram-II is equipped to lift off with 595 kilograms of cargo. Meanwhile, Vikram-III can launch with an 815 kg to 500 km Low Inclination Orbit.

Why Is This A Big Deal?

The launch marks a new beginning in the Indian space sector, which has so far been under the sole domain of the Indian Space Research Organisation. The Indian space agency has been solely responsible for developing, designing, and launching rockets and missions into space. The launch of the Prarambh mission will mark a new age with the private sector shouldering a part of the burden of the public organisation.

The development will also mark a crucial phase that the private sector is capable of not just developing and designing these launch vehicles but also attracting customers and investments into the sector, which has largely been dependent on the public exchequer. Several countries in the world, including the US, Europe, and Russia have opened up their space sectors for private organisations and the rise of companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin is visible globally.

India recently opened its space sector for private companies and the announcement shows that the system is working. ISRO and InSpace have been working closely with private companies in providing expertise and technical know-how about the systems and complex designs of a rocket system.

“Skyroot has its headquarters in Hyderabad and the city has a good ecosystem for space-based companies. ISRO has been continuously providing us with guidance and its expertise in developing the Vikram rockets,” Sireesh said.

ISRO chief S Somnath has said that the country needs new players in the space sector to make economically viable programmes.

All About Skyroot

The company had a humble beginning led by IIT Kharagpur and IIT Madras Alumnus Pawan Chandana and Bharath Daka respectively in 2018 with seed funding from Mukesh Bansal, the founder of Myntra. Two years later, it became the first Indian private company to successfully test-fire a full-scale liquid propulsion engine followed by a solid rocket stage.

It raised $11 million in Series A funding and signed an MoU with ISRO to use its facilities and expertise for the development of the rockets in 2021 and went on to test-fire a 3D-printed fully cryogenic engine. The company raised an additional $4.5 million, with the total funds raised at $ 17 million. In just three years of its arrival on the scene, it is ready to launch its rocket into space.

With the private sector growth in space tech, Sireesh said, “We do not see other companies working in the sector as a competition. We all have different specifications of rockets under development and we are all working for the goal of opening up space.”

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