skyroot aerospace, skyroot rocket, cryogenic rocket, skyroot isro tieup, spacetech startups
ETtech

Skyroot Aerospace founders Naga Bharath Daka and Pawan Kumar Chandana.

Bengaluru: Skyroot Aerospace, a Hyderabad-based space technology startup, has test fired India’s first privately developed fully cryogenic rocket engine, successfully demonstrating the technology that will power the upper stages of its upcoming Vikram-2 orbital launch vehicle.
The rocket engine, named Dhawan-1 in honour of Indian rocket scientist Satish Dhawan, has been developed using 3D printing technology and is fuelled by liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen—a high-performance, low-cost and clean rocket fuel, the company said.
“This is a completely ‘Made-in-India’ cryogenic engine developed using 3D printing with a superalloy, reducing manufacturing time by more than 95%,” said Pawan Kumar Chandana, cofounder and chief executive at Skyroot Aerospace. “This test makes us one of the very few companies in the world to have successfully demonstrated this technology.”
Cryogenic engines are given the name due to the use of propellants that are stored at cryogenic temperatures of less than negative 150 degrees Celsius.
With this milestone, Skyroot has demonstrated all the three propulsion technologies that will be used in its first series of small satellite launch vehicles, it said. In December last year, the company successfully test fired its Kalam-5 solid propulsion rocket engine, a larger version of which will be used to power the lower stages of its Vikram rocket.
“The complex engine start and shut-off transients (were) perfectly smooth, combustion was very stable, and pressure was rock steady. This is a phenomenal achievement by our team and we’ve mastered handling two cryogenic fuels,” said Padma Shri awardee V Gnanagandhi, who heads the cryogenic propulsion team at Skyroot.
Skyroot is backed by the promoters of renewable energy firm Greenko Group, explosives manufacturer and ISRO supplier Solar Industries and Curefit founder Mukesh Bansal.
The company is looking to develop and manufacture rockets that will hurl small satellites into space at an extremely low cost and with quick turnaround times. Apart from 3D printing to manufacture the rocket engines, Skyroot plans to use carbon composites to develop the rocket case, a material that’s lighter than steel, yet stronger.
Skyroot also plans to be able to fire its rockets off portable launchers, something that will offer a lot of flexibility to firms that partner with it.
In September this year, the company became the first space tech firm to formally enter into an agreement with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to utilise its facilities and get access to its expertise for testing and qualification of its small satellite launch vehicles, the first launch of which is scheduled for 2022. Skyroot was a finalist in the Top Innovator category of the 2021 edition of The Economic Times Startup Awards.

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