Watch: India’s First Privately-Built Vikram-1 Rocket Clears Key Test Ahead Of 2021 Launch

India’s first private sector-built rocket, Vikram-1, has reportedly cleared a key test ahead of its scheduled launch next year. Indian space startup Skyroot Aerospace, founded by two former ISRO scientists, has successfully test-fired the first solid rocket propulsion stage demonstrator called Kalam-5.

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Kalam-5 has been developed using an advanced carbon composite structure, which is five-times lighter than a steel case, reported Money Control

Skyroot Aerospace announced in a tweet, “In India’s first by a private company and a major milestone for us, we are thrilled to announce a successful test firing of our first solid rocket propulsion stage demonstrator: Kalam-5. Fired up for 2021!” (sic) 

The Hyderabad-based startup released a video of the test on December 22. This is the first of five Kalam-series solid rocket motors with a thrust ranging from 5kN to 1000kN. Kalam-5 uses ultra-high-strength carbon composite case and composite propellant. 

Co-founders of Skyroot Aerospace, Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka were both engineers at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) before they set up the company.

“The ‘Vikram-1’ rocket has three solid fuel-powered stages each with a burn time ranging between 80 and 100 seconds,  Chandana told Business Insider. He added that the full-scale solid fuel stage will be tested at the ISRO facility soon and the burn time will be 100 seconds.

Kalam-5 is the first of the five solid rocket propulsion systems to be tested. It uses solid material and is considered one of the most reliable way to provide thrust and are used in almost every Earth-to-orbit launch capability. The Kalam-5 system uses 15 types of advanced materials, nine manufacturing processes, and has zero moving parts.

The startup is working on a series of launch vehicles named after Dr Vikram Sarabhai, the father of India’s space program. There are three launch vehicles that are currently being developed with the aim to cater to the small satellite market. 

Vikram-1, which is expected to be launched in 2021, has highly reliable solid propulsion stages with a proven design heritage with miniaturized and modern avionics. It also has ultra-low shock pneumatic separation.

The startup has reportedly raised Rs 31.5 crores and will raise another Rs 90 crore in 2020 and 2021, according to the Money Control report. The startup is backed by Myntra and CureFit founder Mukesh Bansal, Vendashu Investments, and other angel investors.

Earlier this year, the Indian government had set up Indian National Space, Promotion & Authorization Centre (INSPACe), under the Department of Space to bring in the private sector in the space program. 

The government said that it would allow private players to utilize the ISRO infrastructure on reasonable charges.

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