A successful suborbital launch of the Vikram-S rocket by Hyderabad-based aerospace startup Skyroot from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, marks the arrival of Indian private operators in the space sector.
More than seven minutes into the mission, the demonstrator, which carried three non-deployable payloads to a peak height of 89.5 kilometers above Earth, completed its targeted course by splashing down into the Bay of Bengal.
Thanks dear @narendramodi ji for your transformational vision for India’s private space, which is the bedrock on which we accomplished our milestone today. We are happy to be part of India’s space history and look forward to be a strong part of its bright future.@isro @inspace https://t.co/OTYKuZj2Ru
— Skyroot Aerospace (@SkyrootA) November 18, 2022
It was a technology demonstration mission, and often the first space mission carried out by space companies before undertaking commercial assignments.
This is standard practice, and the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) most recently used it to launch the D1 mission of their Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV). The latter failed due to a bug in the payload deployer that prevented it from injecting its onboard satellites into their intended orbits.
India’s draft space communications policy opened up the domestic space sector for private players
The Skyroot mission is made possible by India’s proposed space communications legislation, which now allows the private sector to participate in the country’s domestic space industry.
Skyroot was permitted to carry out the launch mission by the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (In-Space), a nodal authorization body under the Union government’s Department of Space (DoS). ISRO provided its facilities to the company as part of a transfer of technology clause that is anticipated to be included in India’s eventual Space Policy.
— ISRO (@isro) November 18, 2022
Industry insiders predicted that the maiden mission’s success would support India’s nascent private space industry.
Anil Kumar Bhatt, director general of the industry body Indian Space Association, said, “the successful launch of the Vikram-S rocket would validate most of the technologies in the Vikram series of space launch vehicles planned by Skyroot in the coming years.”
The mission serves as a practice run for the commercial launch missions that Skyroot Aerospace and other domestic space companies like Agnikul Cosmos plan to carry out the following year.
An In-Space representative announced at the Vikram-S launch ceremony that Agnikul Cosmos’ homegrown Agnibaan satellite launcher is also scheduled to conduct a comparable demonstrator launch shortly.
The launch event today confirmed the company’s composite fiber-built solid fuel motor technologies, according to Chandana, who also noted that the engine had a carbon fiber build that was 3D printed.
In June of this year, the executive stated that the company uses additive manufacturing facilities in Bengaluru and Chennai to 3D print its engines. Skyroot would also like to construct its 3D printing engine manufacturing plant, similar to what Agnikul Cosmos presented in July of this year, once demand increases.