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India’s first commercial rocket, Vikram-S successfully launched

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced that Indian space startup Skyroot launched India’s first private rocket, Vikram-S, on Friday at 11:30 a.m. local time from the Satish Dhawan launch site in Sriharikota, India, and made a suborbital flight.

The mission was described as a Prarambh (“beginning” in Sanskrit) mission and was successfully completed after flying at an altitude of 50 kilometers. The rocket eventually reached a peak altitude of 89.5 kilometers before landing in the Bay of Bengal about five minutes after launch, meeting all flight parameters.

The commercial rocket is from Skyroot Aerospace Private Limited, named after Vikram Sarabhai, the father of the country’s space program.

Founded in June 2018 by former ISRO scientists Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka, the company employs about 200 people and is India’s largest private space startup, having won two Indian national awards, raised $526 million to date, and successfully test-launched India’s privately built solid rocket stage in December 2020.

Vikram-S is a single-stage, spin-stabilized solid propellant rocket with a mass of about 550 kg, a height of 8 meters, a diameter of 37.6 cm, a peak vacuum thrust of 7 tons and the ability to deliver 83 kg of payload to an altitude of 100 km. It carries three customer payloads, one of which is from a customer outside India.

The six-meter rocket is described as having a full carbon fiber core structure, 3D printed components, and other technologies, is spin and aerodynamically stabilized, and it took two years to complete development. In addition, the startup is building a series of launch vehicles named after Vikram Sarabhai, founder of the Indian space program.

▲ Image source: Skyroot

The Indian government passed space sector reforms in June 2020, establishing the Indian National Space Promotion and Empowerment Centre (IN-SPACe) to allow private companies to use ISRO’s infrastructure. In addition, NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) has been established in New Delhi as the commercial arm of the space agency to work closely with private companies and startups to promote space in this country.

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