India’s first-ever privately designed and developed rocket is a step closer to becoming a reality in 2021
Indian space startup, Skyroot Aerospace, has successfully test-fired its first solid rocket propulsion stage demonstrator called Kalam-5.
- Kalam-5 uses the same propellant, materials, and interface as the motors that will be installed on Vikram-1 — in line to become India’s first privately designed, developed and tested rocket in 2021.
- Skyroot Aerospace is backed by Myntra founder
Mukesh Bansaland other angel investors with $4.3 million in the bag and plans to raise another $15 million next year.
Founded by two former scientists of the
Kalam-5 uses the exact same propellant, materials, and interface as the three solid propulsion stages of the Vikram-1 launch vehicle, according to Chandana. It is the first of the five Kalam engines that Skyroot plans to test.
"The 'Vikram-1' rocket has three solid fuel-powered stages each with a burn time ranging between 80 and 100 seconds. The full scale solid fuel stage will be tested at the ISRO facility soon. The burn time will be 100 seconds," he said.
With this milestone out of the way, the company is on-track to launch its first full rocket next year.
"We will be signing the non-disclosure agreement with the Department of Space in order to get access to ISRO facilities. The full scale solid fuel stage will be tested at ISRO's rocket port in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh," Chandana added.
Why does the success of Kalam-5 matter?
Propulsion systems are where the actual magic happens to get rockets off the planet and into space. If anything goes wrong, infamous results can range from pre-launch explosions to the rocket simply falling out of the sky.
Making sure that the propulsion system not only works properly but also provides an adequate thrust to beat gravity is crucial to the success of any rocket.
Kalam-5 is a solid motor. These are high thrust, low-cost rocket engines with propellant in solid form. In addition to being cost-effective, they are also highly reliable with fewer moving parts.
Right now, Kalam-5 gives a peak sea-level thrust of 5.3kN, can handle the pressure of 66 atmospheres and temperatures of up to 30,000 degrees Celsius. It is only one-fourth the size of the solid motor in Vikram 1’s third stage.
“Kalam-5 uses 15 different advanced materials, nine different manufacturing processes and has zero moving parts,” Chandana explained.
Skyroot is backed by investors like Solar Industries, Vedanshu Investments, and Myntra founder Mukesh Bansal. It has raised $4.3 million till now and is in the process of raising another $15 million in 2021.
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