In a milestone, Hyderabad-based startup Skyroot Aerospace on Friday became the first Indian company to launch a rocket — Vikram-S, a small, single-stage launch vehicle — from the sounding rocket complex at the Isro’s spaceport in Sriharikota.
The rocket achieved its peak altitude, an Apogee (point away from Earth) of 89.5km as against the targeted 80+km. While other findings from the mission will trickle in slowly, the company declared the mission a success and said “all parametres” were met.
Picture source: Skyroot
The company is justifiably elated after the success, but its personnel will soon get to work for the next phase of developmental activities that will put its first rocket, Vikram-I, on the launchpad. TOI looks at Skyroot’s journey, its founders, other key members and more:
The company so far: Officially established on June 12, 2018 by Pawan Chandana and Naga Bharat Daka, both former Isro scientists, the firm has reported consistent growth over the last 29 months.
- June 12, 2020: Skyroot Aerospace established
- Aug 2020: Becomes 1st Indian pvt firm to test-fire full-scale liquid propulsion engine
- Sept 2020: Develops India’s first privately built 3D-printed cryo engine
- Dec 2020: 1st Indian firm to develop & test-fire a solid rocket stage
- July 2021: Raises Series-A funding
- Sept 2021: First India firm to sign MoU with Isro for its facilities & expertise
- Nov 2021: First Indian firm to test-fire 3D-printed cryo engine
- Jan 2022: Raised additional $4.5-million
- May 2022: Completes full duration test firing of Vikram-1 rocket stage
- Nov 18, 2022: First Indian company to launch a rocket
Pawan Kumar Chandana, an IIT-Kharagpur alumnus, holds a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and Master’s degree in thermal science and engineering.
Before Skyroot, he worked with Isro’s lead rocket building facility, the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) for six years. Among the projects he was involved in was the GSLV-Mk3 (LVM3), the largest rocket built by Isro so far.
Naga Bharat Daka, an IIT-Madras alumnus, holds a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a Master’s degree in microelectronics and VLS design.
He was also at VSSC before he co-founded Skyroot with Chandana. At VSSC, he worked as a flight computer engineer, helping build hardware and firmware for multiple onboard computer modules that implement the sequencing, navigation, control, and guidance functions of the launch vehicle.
Other key members:
Gnanagandhi V, who handles the firm’s liquid propulsion and cryogenic development is a Padma Shri awardee with more than 40 years of experience in propulsion. A former Isro scientist, he is considered to be among the pioneers of cryogenic rocket technology in India.
Eswaran VG, a solid propulsion expert, was the former project director of the world’s third largest solid fuelled rocket stage (on GSLV-Mk3 or LVM3).
Selvaraju S, who works on quality & systems reliability, has expertise of quality assurance done for 50+ launches. He is a former director at the Directorate of Systems Reliability & Quality at the Isro headquarters.
The company will now focus on further tests of various systems that go into Vikram-I, its first full-fledged rocket among three it plans to build and launch.
The firm plans to carry out multiple launch missions in the coming years, and as per its internal targets, it hopes to do 18 launches in 2026 and earn a revenue of more than $100 million. The growth to 2026 will be gradual with four launches targeted next year, eight in 2024 and 12 in 2025.