India’s First Privately Developed Rocket Set To Soar On Friday

Chennai/New Delhi- India’s space programme will soar into new skies on Friday when the country’s first privately developed rocket, Vikram-S would be launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from its spaceport in Sriharikota, about 115 kms from Chennai.

Decks have been cleared for the four-year-old startup Skyroot Aerospace to make the maiden launch of its Vikram-S rocket, marking the foray of private sector into the country’s space industry, dominated by the state-run ISRO for decades.

Skyroot Aerospace has become the first private company in India to give wings to the Indian space programme, after the sector was opened to private players by the Centre in 2020.

The lift off of the first Vikram-S rocket has been scheduled at 11.30 am with clear weather paving the way for the launch as against the earlier planned November 15.

Vikram-S will soar to an altitude of 81 km after its launch from Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The launch vehicle has been named so as a tribute to the father of Indian Space programme, the late Vikram Sarabhai.

The Mission titled ‘Prarambh’ (the beginning) would carry three payloads belonging to two domestic customers and a foreign client.

The six-meter tall rocket is one of the world’s first few all-composite rockets that has 3-D printed solid thrusters for spin stability of the launch vehicle, a Skyroot functionary said.

The launch of the rocket is expected to demonstrate flight proving of avionics systems in Vikram series like telemetry, tracking, inertial measurement, Global Positioning System, on-board camera, data acquisition and power systems.

India’s space regulator IN-SPACe on Wednesday authorised the launch of Skyroot’s Vikram-S sub-orbital vehicle.

“This is a giant leap for the private space sector in India. Congratulations to Skyroot for becoming the first Indian company to be authorised for launching a rocket,” Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre Chairman Pawan Goenka said.

The Vikram-S suborbital flight will carry three payloads of Chennai-based start-up SpaceKidz, Andhra Pradesh-based N-SpaceTech and Armenian BazoomQ Space Research Lab.

Union Minister of state for Personnel, Jitendra Singh said India is set to script history by launching the first ever private rocket developed by ‘Skyroot Aerospace’ from Sriharikota, under the guidance of ISRO.

He said space sector reforms have unleashed innovative potential of start-ups and within a short span of time, about 102 start-ups were working in cutting-edge areas of space debris management, nano-satellite, launch vehicle, ground systems, and research.

Responding to his comments on social media, Skyroot Aerospace said, “We are proud of our mission which is poised to create history for Indian private space, and further the vision of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

‘Prarambh’ was unveiled by ISRO Chairman S Somanath in Bengaluru early this month after the technical launch clearance from IN-SPACe.

Skyroot Aerospace co-founder, Pawan K Chandana said, “After months of sleepless nights and meticulous preparations from our team — super thrilled to announce our first launch mission #Prarambh from the beautifiul island of Sriharikota.”

Goenka said the seamless joint efforts of various ISRO centres including Satish Dhawan Space Centre, ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network, Bengaluru, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Skyroot team and IN-SPACe have enabled the Vikram-S rocket to be launch ready in a short span of time.

According to ISRO sources, unlike the two launch pads located in the SDSC Sriharikota, which are normally used for the lift-off of launch vehicles like PSLVs and GSLVs, Friday’s mission would be from the propulsion centre where sounding rockets were used by ISRO.

“This is a small rocket and instead of those big ones, this centre were sounding rockets were used by ISRO will be used tomorrow,” an official told PTI.

The Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota has two launch complexes, each capable of providing complete support for vehicle assembly, check out and launch operations for any kind of missions — Low Earth Orbit, Geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Friday’s mission is considered to be a significant milestone for Skyroot Aerospace as it would help test and validate majority of the technologies in the Vikram series of orbital class space launch vehicles, including many sub-systems and technologies that would be tested before lift-off and post lift off phases of the launch.

‘Fun-Sat’, a 2.5 kgs payload belonging to Chennai-based aerospace startup, Spacekidz, has been developed by students from India, the United States, Singapore and Indonesia.

The 545 kg Vikram launch vehicle consists of the Vikram II and Vikram III series.

The Vikram-S launch vehicle is expected to place the payloads in about 500 kms low inclination orbit.

The technology architecture of the launch vehicle Vikram offers unique capabilities like multi-orbit insertion, interplanetary missions, while providing customised, dedicated and ride share options covering a wide spectrum of small satellite customer needs, the company said.

Skyroot said the launch vehicles can be assembled and launched within 24 hours from any launch site.

The launch vehicle is equipped with telemetry, tracking, GPS, on-board camera, data acquisition and power systems, the company said.

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