Private Sector in The Space Race And The End of ISRO's Monopoly
Marking a new dawn in the country's space sector, India's first privately developed rocket 'Vikram-S', the first in the Vikram series, made its maiden flight on a sub-orbital mission with three payloads from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO's) Sriharikota spaceport. The mission, known as Prabandha, or "Shuruat", represents the Indian private sector's entry into the lucrative space launch market. The vehicle, named Vikram Sarabhai, will be used by India's space agency. The program marks the entry of the private sector in the space race and the end of ISRO's monopoly.
The rocket was made by Skyroot Aerospace, a business established in 2018 in Hyderabad. Its name is Vikram-S. It bears the name of Vikram Sarabhai, who founded India's space programme. In 2020, the space industry was made available to private companies. Three Vikram rockets are being developed by the corporation, and they will run on different types of solid and cryogenic fuels. One of the few launch vehicles to use a carbon composite core structure is the Vikram series of rockets. The vehicle's spin stability thrusters were fabricated through 3D printing. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, a former President, is honored on the engine of the launch vehicle.
The mission is considered an important milestone for Skyroot as it will help validate 80% of the technologies that will be used in the Vikram-1 orbital vehicle that is planned to be launched next year. India's first privately produced cryogenic, hypergolic-liquid and solid fuel rocket engine has been successfully manufactured and tested by Skyroot using state-of-the-art composite and 3D printing techniques. In September this year, Skyroot Aerospace was able to raise $51 million through a Series-B financing transaction. In July last year, it had raised $11 million in a Series-A capital round.
To accommodate the needs of a variety of small satellite customers, the state-of-the-art technical design of the Vikram series offers special capabilities such as multi-orbit insertion and interplanetary missions, as well as customized, dedicated and rideshare possibilities. According to Skyroot, a Vikram rocket has "minimal payload section cost" and can be built and launched from any launch site in less than 24 hours. Smaller satellites weighing between 5 and 1,000 kg had to make do with longer rides into space on rockets designed to carry larger satellites. In the last eight to ten years, the need for space-based data, communication, surveillance and commerce has increased the demand for small satellite launches. Today, a wide range of industries depend on satellite data, imagery and space technology, including weather, agriculture, transportation and urban development.
More than two years have passed since India announced its intention to allow private players in the space industry, and the response has been promising and potentially fruitful, with several businesses showcasing cutting-edge technologies. There has been some activity over the past few months, including the opening of new features, successful trials, and patents. Earlier this year, ISRO launched several technology demonstration satellites from private sector companies including Digantara and Dhruv Space.
India has continuously worked to make the space sector open to new entrepreneurs and private companies to explore the untapped potential of space. Current space policies are also being updated, and new ones are being created to address the policy framework for various areas such as spacecom, remote sensing, technology transfer, navigation, space transportation, space exploration and space situational awareness. This is being done to make it easier for the private sector to participate in space activities. With the help of government policies and reforms, the industry has demonstrated a healthy ecosystem of entrepreneurs and private firms. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is capable of launching satellites into orbit, but demand is exceeding supply, especially in light of the space agency's other, more ambitious objectives. As a result, the industry is opening up to private investors due to ISRO's facilities and know-how. ISRO may be able to charge for facility use and make money.