Release Date: Release Date – Friday 22nd November to 12:30am 11th November
Over the past few decades, India has overcome technological denial, made great strides in space technology and became one of the world’s leading spacefaring nations. It will now reach a new milestone with Vikram-S, the first privately developed rocket scheduled to launch from Sriharikota next week. The mission, aptly named “Parambh” (beginning), heralds a new era in space. Notably, the rocket was developed by Hyderabad-based startup Skyroot Aerospace, which has a technology launch license from space regulator India’s National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACE). This will be the first such launch since the government opened the space sector to private industry in June 2020. Vikram-S is a single-stage suborbital launch vehicle that will carry three customer payloads and help test and validate most of the technology of the Vikram family of space launch vehicles. In November 2021, the company successfully tested a prototype of the engine for 20 seconds. Skyroot’s launch vehicle was named “Vikram” in honor of Vikram Sarabhai, the founder of the Indian space program. The company is also developing a cryogenic engine — Dhawan-I, named after former ISRO chairman Satish Dhawan — that will use two high-performance rocket propellants, liquid natural gas and liquid oxygen. It has raised $68 million so far, making it the most-funded private space startup in India. Promoting private sector participation in the space sector will break down barriers to entry and make satellite launch services more cost-effective and reliable.
The Vikram mission is historic because India’s space missions to date have only been launched by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), making Praram the first-ever space mission by a private company emission. The mission is designed to launch three payloads into space, including a 2.5-kilogram payload developed by students from multiple countries. There are stark comparisons to SpaceX, the American space technology company owned by Elon Musk, which went down in history as the first private company to successfully launch and return a spacecraft from Earth orbit. While ISRO’s annual budget is around Rs 15,000 crore, there is a need for the private sector to play a bigger role in stimulating the space technology market. Private companies can bring in the innovations needed to develop space-based applications and services. In addition, global and Indian demand for these services is surging. Private players can participate in the establishment of ground stations for spacecraft, as well as in the application of space technology. After 50 years of experience in space activities and applications and a strong range of local capabilities – startups, SMEs and large corporations – huge global opportunities are beckoning the country’s space industry.