South Asia and Beyond

The Launch Of The First Privately Owned Indian Rocket Last Friday Signals A New Era

NEW DELHI : Last Friday, Skyroot Aerospace Pvt. Ltd—the Hyderabad-based startup—successfully launched its sub-orbital rocket, Vikram-S, at 11.30 am from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. It was the first satellite launch vehicle built by a private Indian company but launched using the facilities provided by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro). The launch followed the execution plan to the T, reaching an altitude of about 89.5 km in 155 seconds—under three minutes—before plunging into the Bay of Bengal. There are so many fascinating ways of viewing this phenomenal success. One, this launch was undertaken by a startup; there are about 175-200 startups operating in the space sector. Second, this project fructified in less than two years after the union government opened up the space sector to private participation in 2020. Third, the Vikram-S class of rockets are smaller and can hence place payloads in the lower orbit more precisely. Fourth, the production of the rocket used 3D printing and a carbon-fibre body, opening up new techniques to manufacture rockets. Finally, this textbook collaboration between the Indian private sector and Isro holds a mirror to the idea of PPP (Public Private Partnership). To understand this and more we spoke to Lt General Anil Bhatt, Director General, of the IndianSpace Association. Being the head of the body, which acts as the interface between the space companies operating in the private sector and Isro, regulators and government gives General Bhatt a vantage view of the momentous changes underway in the Indian space sector.

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