Mission Prarambh: Skyroot All Set to Launch India’s First Private Rocket Vikram –S


New Delhi: The November is going to an eventful month as it will mark India’s advent into commercial space exploration. The launch of privately developed Vikram –S rocket into space from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota will be India’s first and is set to create history. It has been developed by Hyderabad based start-up Skyroot Aerospace.

“A launch window between November 12 and 16 has been notified by authorities, the final date being confirmed based on weather conditions,” Skyroot Aerospace CEO and co-founder Pawan Kumar Chandana told Indian media last week.

The mission, which has been named Prarambh – the beginning and rightly so, is expected to launch Vikram-S rocket in the second week of November on a demonstration flight with three separate payloads weighing around 80 kilograms. These payloads, including one by SpaceKidz India, has been developed by students from several countries, including Indonesia. The launch will officially cross the Karmen line where space begins, at an altitude of 120 kilometres above the surface of Earth. The company will launch the fully powered Vikram-1 rocket after that.

“The mission is aimed at setting the stage for the launch of Vikram-I launch vehicle with customer payloads. “The Vikram-1 rocket’s maiden launch is targeted in the Q2-Q3 of 2023 and we have customers already lined up for the mission,” reported an Indian media outlet quoting Sireesh Pallikonda, Business Development Lead, Skyroot.

Skyroot Aerospace has been developing three variants of the Vikram rocket. While the Vikram-I can carry 480 kilograms of payload to Low Earth Orbit, the Vikram-II is equipped to lift off with 595 kilograms of cargo. Meanwhile, Vikram-III can launch with an 815 kg to 500 km Low Inclination Orbit. The company has named its rocket Vikram after Vikram Sarabhai who established India’s space programme.

“The Vikram-S rocket is a single-stage sub-orbital launch vehicle which would carry three customer payloads and help test and validate the majority of the technologies in the Vikram series of space launch vehicles,” Naga Bharath Daka, chief operating officer of Skyroot Aerospace, said in a statement.

Prarambh is a demonstration mission, yet it is a full-scale suborbital launch for the company, which aims to strengthen the private space sector in the company. The mission will validate the technology, engine, and designs of the Vikram rocket and demonstrate that it is capable of launching heavy payloads into Low Earth Orbit.

“SpaceKidz India is privileged to send a payload in this historic maiden mission of Skyroot, FunSAT, a 2.5 kg mass which was developed by students globally from the US, Indonesia, Singapore, and India. The highlight is that a few grandfathers have worked along with their grandchildren on the payload. True to our vision, we are making space accessible and economical for students who are enthusiastic to learn about it,” said Srimathy Kesa, founder of SpaceKidz India.

In 2021, the government launched a programme to promote collaboration between private and public players in space technology. Skyroot was the first startup to sign a deal with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to launch rockets. With funding of up to $68 million, it has also reportedly cornered the largest share in the funding of the country’s space tech sector. In September, Skyroot was infused with $50.5 million in a series B round led by Singapore-based GIC, making this its second round of funding this year.

The launch of the Prarambh mission will mark a new age with the private sector participation. The Indian space sector so far has been under the sole domain of the Indian Space Research Organisation which has been solely responsible for developing, designing, and launching rockets and missions into space.