Chennai: India’s space program will take off into new skies on Friday when the nation’s first privately developed rocket, Vikram-S would be launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from its spaceport in Sriharikota.

Decks have been cleared for the four-year-old startup Skyroot Aerospace to make the debut launch of its Vikram-S rocket, denoting the foray of the private sector into the country’s space industry, dominated by the state-run ISRO for decades.

Skyroot Aerospace has turned into the first private company in India to give wings to the Indian space program after the sector was opened to private players by the Centre in 2020.

The takeoff of the first Vikram-S rocket has been scheduled at 11.30 am with clear weather preparing the way for the launch as against the earlier planned November 15. Vikram-S will take off to an altitude of 81 km after its launch from Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The launch vehicle has been named so as a tribute to the father of the Indian Space program, the late Vikram Sarabhai.

The Mission named ‘Prarambh’ would carry three payloads belonging to two domestic customers and a foreign client. The six-meter-tall rocket is one of the world’s first few all-composite rockets that has 3-D printed solid engines for spin stability of the launch vehicle, a Skyroot functionary said.

The launch of the rocket is expected to flight prove the Vikram series of avionics systems such as telemetry, tracking, inertial measurement, Global Positioning System, on-board cameras, data acquisition, and power systems. India’s space regulator IN-SPACe on Wednesday authorized the launch of Skyroot’s Vikram-S sub-orbital vehicle.

“This is a giant leap for the private space sector in India. Congratulations to Skyroot for becoming the first Indian company to be authorized for launching a rocket,” Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre Chairman Pawan Goenka said.

The Vikram-S suborbital flight will carry three payloads of Chennai-based start-up SpaceKidz, Andhra Pradesh-based N-SpaceTech, and Armenian BazoomQ Space Research Lab. Union Minister of State for Personnel, Jitendra Singh said India is set to write history by launching the first-ever private rocket developed by ‘Skyroot Aerospace’ from Sriharikota, under the guidance of ISRO.

He said space sector reforms have released the innovative potential of start-ups and within a short period, about 102 start-ups were working in cutting-edge areas of space debris management, nano-satellite, launch vehicle, ground systems, and research. According to ISRO sources, unlike the two launch pads located in the SDSC Sriharikota, which are normally used for the lift-off of launch vehicles like PSLVs and GSLVs, Friday’s mission would be from the propulsion center where sounding rockets were used by ISRO. “This is a small rocket and instead of those big ones, this center where sounding rockets were used by ISRO will be used tomorrow,” an official told PTI.

The Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota has two launch complexes, each fit for providing complete support for vehicle assembly, check out, and launch operations for any sort of mission — Low Earth Orbit, Geosynchronous transfer orbit. Friday’s mission is considered to be a significant milestone for Skyroot Aerospace as it would help test and approve the 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 periods of the launch.

‘Fun-Sat’, a 2.5 kgs payload belonging to Chennai-based aerospace startup, Spacekidz, has been developed by students from India, the United States, Singapore, and Indonesia. The 545 kg Vikram launch vehicle consists of the Vikram II and Vikram III series. The Vikram-S launch vehicle is supposed to place the payloads in about 500 km low tendency orbit.

The technology architecture of the launch vehicle Vikram offers unique capacities like multi-orbit insertion, and interplanetary missions, while providing customized, dedicated, and ride-share choices covering a wide spectrum of small satellite customer needs, the company said.

Skyroot said the launch vehicles can be assembled and launched in 24 hours from any launch site.

The launch vehicle is furnished with telemetry, tracking, GPS, an on-board camera, data acquisition, and power frameworks, the company said.

By Archana

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