India's start-up ecosystem in the upcoming commercial space sector received yet another boost on Thursday morning after the four-year-old Skyroot Aerospace successfully test-fired the third stage of its Vikram-1 rocket in Nagpur today.
The Kondapur-based company used its Kalam 100 solid propulsion engine for the purpose. The materials used in the engine include high-strength carbon fibre structure, solid fuel, ethylene-propylene-diene terpolymers (EPDM) thermal protection system and carbon ablative nozzle.
Speaking to Business Today, CEO, Skyroot Aerospace, Pawan Kumar Chandana, said, "The full duration test firing for the third stage of the Vikram-1 launch vehicle is a major milestone and increases conviction for testing of the first two stages in the coming months. This gives us tremendous confidence as we continue our work to develop correct and cost-effective technologies for the launch."
This was a particularly challenging test for the company. The next two stages, i.e., the first and the second, will utilise the same architecture and materials and are an extended version of the third stage. The company intends to complete them before the year's end.
"This also means that our plans to put the first Vikram-1 rocket into orbit by early 2023 are well on track," declared Chandana.
The test site was provided by Solar Industries India, an investor in Skyroot.
The design of the underdevelopment Vikram 1 launch vehicle has been ranked among the best in the category for pushing the small satellite launch vehicle to its limits by the commercial space industry. The rocket design stands out for its use of ultra-high-strength carbon fibre structure, 94 per cent propellant loading and large firing duration of 108 seconds.
Skyroot was founded by former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) engineers Chandana and Naga Bharat Daka in 2018. Together with being one of the earliest entrants among startups in the field, the company is also the first start-up to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ISRO for the agency's support and expertise in building rockets.
The company is looking at servicing sectors such as telecommunications, space broadband and earth observation with its Vikram series of rockets. The company has raised $17 million in funding to date.
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