Indian private space company Skyroot Aerospace has formally signed up with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The Hyderabad-based company, which is building small satellite launch vehicles, entered into a non-disclosure agreement with the Department of Space on 2 February.
This agreement will give Skyroot Aerospace access to ISRO’s facilities and technical expertise as they go about developing their launch vehicles.
“This is the beginning of a historic journey together. Our hardware will soon be rolled out to @isro facilities for testing,” the aerospace company tweeted out.
ISRO scientific secretary R Umamaheswaran, on behalf of the Department of Space, and Skyroot Aerospace chief executive Pawan Chandana signed the agreement.
The director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, S Somanath, was among the officials from ISRO and the Department of Space present during the signing of the agreement.
Skyroot representatives also met with Department of Space secretary and ISRO chairman K Sivan.
Skyroot Aerospace was among the three private space companies – the other two were Dhruva Space and Bellatrix Aerospace – that received awards in October last year as part of the National Startup Awards 2020.
On the Doordarshan show “Startup Champions”, which is dedicated to the award winners, Sivan joined in and said, “I am very happy to declare that I want them to come and make use of our facility to test their engines and their rocket. Also, I will invite them to launch from our space port. Our startup, Indian startup, should launch the rocket from (an) Indian site.”
He also mentioned that a space port would be created near the southern tip of India that would be “very useful” for Skyroot Aerospace and other space companies.
Skyroot is working towards the goal of sending its first launch vehicle, “Vikram I”, into space by December 2021. Vikram is their series of launch vehicles designed for the small satellite market.
There will be three rockets in the series – Vikram I, Vikram II, and Vikram III.
The name Vikram comes from Dr Vikram Sarabhai, who set Indian space research and development in motion in the early years.
In 2020, Skyroot reached a few key milestones.
On 28 December, they announced the successful test-firing of their first solid rocket propulsion stage demonstrator, “Kalam-5”. It was a first for a private Indian company and the first of five Kalam engines expected.
Four months earlier, they had announced the successful test-firing of their upper-stage engine, “Raman”.
With the dual success of Kalam-5 and Raman, Skyroot demonstrated the propulsion technologies that are to power Vikram I at the end of this year.
Skyroot also unveiled their “Dhawan-1” cryogenic rocket engine last year.
Dhawan-1 is an entirely homegrown, 3D printed engine that will run on liquid natural gas. It will form the upper-stage technology powering the Vikram II launch vehicle in the future.
Just as in the case of the Vikram series, the “Dhawan” engines are named after an important figure in Indian rocket science and technology, Professor Satish Dhawan.
This year, Skyroot will conduct three full rocket stage tests using ISRO facilities in the run-up to the December launch.
Skyroot Aerospace wants to build high-technology, low-cost, reliable launch vehicles. The founders Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka previously worked as engineers at ISRO before starting up in 2018.
Chief executive Chandana told the Week magazine that they want to make space flight as cheap as an air flight in the long run “so that anybody can go to space”.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!