India’s first privately built rocket Vikram-S to lift off with three satellites today

NEW DELHI: In a landmark for India’s space sector, Isro is set to launch India’s first privately built rocket from Sriharikota at 11.30 am on Friday. Union space minister Jitendra Singh will personally visit the launch centre to witness the historic launch as he said the “Vikram rocket will herald a level-playing field for cost-efficient satellite launch services by disrupting the entry barriers”.
In a statement just ahead of the launch, the minister said space startup Skyroot Aerospace has developed the Vikram-suborbital (Vikram-S) rocket, which is a single-stage spin-stabilised solid propellant rocket with a mass of 550 kg and that Skyroot was the first startup to sign an MoU with Isro for launching its rockets. Jitendra Singh said apart from being the country’s first private launch, it will also be the maiden mission of Skyroot Aerospace, named “Prarambh”. He said “this will be a major milestone in the journey of Isro after PM Narendra Modi had unlocked the space sector in India two years ago for private participation”.
The six-metre-long Vikram-S rocket will carry three payloads of Chennai-based startup SpaceKidz, Andhra Pradesh-based N-SpaceTech and Armenian BazoomQ Space Research Lab. In 25 seconds after the liftoff and at an altitude of 17.9 km, the rocket’s engine will burn out and Vikram-S will eject payloads at an altitude of 81.5 km. ‘Fun-Sat’, a 2.5-kg payload of Spacekidz, has been developed by students from India, the US, Singapore and Indonesia.
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 PM Narendra Modi.” The startup was founded by Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka in June 2018. Till date, the company has raised Rs 526 crore funds and has about 200 employees.
Space regulator IN-SPACe had authorised the mission launch on Wednesday. Its chairman Pawan Goenka said, “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.”
The Union minister said with the integration of R&D, academia and industry with equal stake, it is safe to say that a space revolution led by Isro along with the private sector is on the horizon. With space reforms unleashing innovative potentials for startups, he said, “In a short span of time, from just a few space startups 3-4 years ago, today we have 102 startups working in cutting-edge areas of space debris management, nano-satellite, launch vehicle, ground systems and research.”

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