Wednesday, May 22, 2024

India’s first privately made rocket launched

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PNS | Sriharikota

India on Friday successfully launched its first privately made rocket, developed by a four-year-old startup, marking the entry of the private sector into the country’s space activities which is currently dominated by the state-run behemoth ISRO.

The rocket, Vikram-S launched three payloads in about 500 km low inclination orbit. It later safely splashed into the sea, as part of the mission.Skyroot Aerospace-designed Vikram-S, named in a befitting tribute to the father of the country’s space programme Vikram Sarabhai, tasted success in its maiden mission.

In the process, the firm became the first privately held company in India after the space sector was opened for private players by the Centre in 2020.

“I am happy to announce the successful completion of Mission Prarambh, The Beginning, by Skyroot aerospace,” a smiling Pawan Goenka, Chairman of the country’s space regulator, Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (in space), said from ISRO’s Mission Control Center here.

The rocket achieved an altitude of 89.5 km and a range of 121.2 km, “exactly what was planned by Skyroot Aerospace,” he said.It “worked as planned” and Skyroot Aerospace has demonstrated various capability of sub-systems that will go into the orbital launch vehicle, he added.

The vehicle integrated into the launcher soared after lifting off at the prefixed 11.30 am from the sounding rocket complex at the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), here, about 115 km from Chennai.

The Mission unveiled by ISRO Chairman S Somanath had three payloads with two belonging to domestic customers and one from a foreign client.

The 6-metre tall rocket is one of the world’s first few all-composite ones that has 3-D printed solid thrusters for spin stability of the launch vehicle.”This is a new beginning for the Indian private sector entering aerospace and a historic moment for all of us,” Goenka said.The three payloads that rode piggyback on the rocket are from Chennai-based start-up SpaceKidz, Andhra Pradesh-based N-SpaceTech and Armenian BazoomQ Space Research Lab.

Pawan Chandana, Skyroot Aerospace co-founder said all the required mission objectives were completed.”This Prarambh mission as the name signifies is the beginning of a new era in the Indian space ecosystem. Team Skyroot dedicates this successful mission to Dr Vikram Sarabhai, who boldly started the Indian space programme in the 1960s, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for unlocking the space sector to private players,” Chandana, also the Mission Director for Friday’s launch, said.

“This Prarambh mission symbolises not only India’s first private rocket launch, it also symbolises the potential of new India,” he added.Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the launch as “historic” and said the accomplishment bears testimony to the immense talent of India’s youth who took full advantage of the landmark space sector reforms of June 2020.

“A historic moment for India as the rocket Vikram-S, developed by Skyroot Aerospace, took off from Sriharikota today! It is an important milestone in the journey of India’s private space industry. Congrats to @isro & @INSPACeIND for enabling this feat,” Modi tweeted Union Minister Jitendra Singh, who witnessed the launch today accompanied by ISRO Chief Somanath here, congratulated the nation and said it is indeed a new beginning and a new dawn.

“Shall I say very appropriately new Prarambh in the journey of India’s space programme and many thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has made this possible by opening space sector to private participation,” Singh, who holds the Department of Space portfolio among others, said.

Earlier, in a departure from the routine, Friday’s mission was launched from the complex where sounding rockets were used by ISRO.SDSC has two launch complexes, each capable of providing complete support for vehicle assembly, check out and launch operations for any kind of missions — Low Earth Orbit, Geosynchronous transfer orbit. PSLVs and GSLVs are launched from here.

Friday’s mission is considered to be a significant milestone for Skyroot Aerospace as it would help test and validate majority of the technologies in the Vikram series of orbital class space launch vehicles, including many sub-systems and technologies that would be tested before lift-off and post lift off phases of the launch.

‘Fun-Sat’, a 2.5 kg payload belonging to Chennai-based Spacekidz, has been developed by students from India, the US, Singapore, Seychelles and Indonesia.The 545 kg Vikram launch vehicle consists of the Vikram II and Vikram III series.

The technology architecture of the launch vehicle offers unique capabilities like multi-orbit insertion and interplanetary missions, while providing customised, dedicated and ride share options covering a wide spectrum of small satellite customer needs, Skyroot Aerospace said.The company added the rockets can be assembled and launched within 24 hours from any launch site.

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