India’s First Privately developed Launch Vehicle: Vikram-S

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    • Hyderabad-based Skyroot’s Vikram-S is all set to make its maiden flight from the country’s only spaceport in Sriharikota making it India’s first privately developed launch vehicle.
      • The mission is code named ‘Prarambh’. 

    About the Prarambh mission

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    • It will mark the beginning of private sector launches in India.
      • The development of privately built rockets and satellites received a boost especially after the finance minister opened the space sector to private participation in 2020.
      • Skyroot will be the first private company to launch its rocket.
    • Other companies and missions:
      • Agnikul Cosmos tested its semi-cryogenic Agnilet engine.
      • ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicles (SSLV) is also likely to be manufactured and operated by private players soon.
    • Private satellite missions launches by ISRO:
      • ISRO’s heaviest launch vehicle Mark III launched 36 OneWeb satellites (India’s Bharti is a stakeholder).
      • ISRO will be launching another fleet of 36 satellites for the company as well. 
      • The space agency has also launched at least four satellites made by students. 

    Vikram-S rocket

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    • It is a single-stage sub-orbital launch vehicle.
    • It will carry three customer payloads in a sub-orbital flight. Among the three payloads is a 2.5kg satellite of another space startup, Space Kidz India, which has been built by students from India, the US and Indonesia. 
      • Sub-orbital flight are those vehicles which are travelling slower than the orbital velocity, meaning it is fast enough to reach outer space but not fast enough to stay in an orbit around the Earth.
      • It is roughly defined as a distance of more than 80 km from the Earth’s mean sea level.
      • Examples: the ones undertaken by Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. 
    • It will help test and validate technologies in the Vikram series space launch vehicles. 
      • The company is designing three Vikram rockets that will use various solid and cryogenic fuels to carry between 290 kg and 560 kg payloads to sun-synchronous polar orbits.
        • Vikram-I can carry 480 kilograms of payload to Low Earth Orbit. It will be powered by a Kalam-100 rocket. 
        • Vikram-II is equipped to lift off with 595 kilograms of cargo. 
        • Vikram-III can launch with 815 kg to 500 km Low Inclination Orbit.
      • In comparison, India’s PSLV can carry up to 1,750kg to such an orbit while the newly-developed small satellite launch vehicle meant for carrying smaller commercial satellites can carry up to 300 kg to sun-synchronous orbit.
    • Tribute to Vikram Sarabhai
      • Skyroot’s launch vehicles are named ‘Vikram’ as a tribute to the founder of the Indian space programme and renowned scientist Vikram Sarabhai.  

    Significance of privatization of space sector

    • Higher autonomy: private companies have a greater degree of autonomy in making decisions, which enables them to take up new projects.
    • Quick decision making: There is quick decision making in private companies while the same process in a public enterprise would have to pass through a number of stages.
    • Low costs: It has allowed companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, etc. to cut their costs substantially and perform operations like launching a rocket to ISS at merely $57 million per seat as compared to $80 million per seat if aboard a Russian shuttle and $450 million each mission before NASA ended its space shuttle program. 
      • Making reusable landing rocket launchers, improvements in assembly lines and other such operations further ensure lower costs.
    • Better employment opportunities: The growth in the space industry also provides employment to millions all over the world, and the rise in the number of private space companies promotes competition amongst them and encourages constant improvements and advancements.
    • Creating widespread interest: The publicity of their operations, like live streaming launches, has sparked widespread interest in space exploration among the general public.

    Skyroot

    • The company is based in Hyderabad.
    • It builds state-of-the-art space launch vehicles for launching commercial satellites to space.
    • It aims to disrupt entry barriers to cost-efficient satellite launch services and space-flight by advancing its mission to make space flights affordable, reliable and regular for all. 

    Source: IE