With the success of ISRO’s Chandrayaan-3 space mission on 23 August 2023, India made history by becoming the first country to land on the Moon’s south pole. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the national space agency of India and it has been doing great work since its inception.
Also, private players are now allowed to build rockets and satellites and take part in space research and missions. Skyroot Aerospace is one of the private spacetech companies in India that also made history on 18 November 2022 by launching India’s first privately-built rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
Headquartered in Hyderabad, Skyroot Aerospace is the brainchild of former ISRO rocket engineers and scientists, Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka. Founded in 2018, the company has managed to raise around $68 million in funding till now.
“I believe rockets are the most fascinating machinery ever built by humans, and are now in need of a new techno-economic makeover, to open up a new frontier in space access and exploration,” says Pawan Kumar, co-founder and CEO of Skyroot.
Making space accessible to all is one of the primary goals of Skyroot, and one of the ways they’re going about it is by making spaceflight a bit more affordable and reliable for everyone. “We are working towards a future where space becomes part of our lives, and such a transition will transform humankind like never before,” says their website.
India’s First-ever Private Space Launch Vehicle
Skyroot’s Vikram Series, named after the honourable Vikram Sarabhai, is a series of small satellite launch vehicles and more than 20,000 satellites are set to be launched in the upcoming years. The Vikram series has made this possible through its leading technology and structure which enables multi-orbit insertion and a wide spectrum of small satellite customer needs.
On 18 November 2022, Skyroot made history as it became the first Indian private company to reach outer space with its newest 6-meter tall rocket, Vikram-S. This was an exceptional milestone for India and we wish Skyroot the absolute best for its future space explorations.
What goes into creating a rocket?
With great companies, come even greater challenges. One can only imagine the amount of meticulous planning and intellect it takes to be able to develop a spacecraft.
We’re no strangers to claiming that things “aren’t rocket science.” Except this time, it is rocket science. Literally. Pawan says, “It [rocket building] was 10x more difficult than what we thought, it took twice the capital we thought we needed”.
How in the world do you even build a rocket? Do you just sketch it out and start assembling it? Well, of course not.
In an interview with Mukesh Bansal, founder of Myntra and Cure.fit, Pawan mentioned the initial stages of building a rocket where he talked about how they sketch out the design of a rocket; taking into consideration numerous aspects like its diameter, length and other specifications.
After that, comes the intense computer simulations with the use of expensive software. The rocket is made of carbon fibre, which is the lightest material ever. A giant spool of carbon fibre threads is used to wrap over a tool [which takes years to craft] shaped like the rocket design. Over thousands of intricate components are then assembled.
Explaining this is incredibly hard, imagine how hard the actual execution would be.
Behind the Exceptional Founders
Pawan Kumar is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, with an M.Tech degree in Thermal Science and Engineering and a B.Tech degree in Mechanical Engineering.
After following his passion and spending 6 years working at such a remarkable institution like ISRO, Pawan decided to part ways and form a private space rocket company along with Naga Bharath Daka.
Bharath has an M.Tech degree in Micro Electronics and VLSI Design from IIT Madras. He was a flight computer engineer at the rocket centre of ISRO.
These brainiacs were colleagues at ISRO and spent almost all their days having dinner together. Pawan pitched the idea to Bharath and he was instantly on board. They have excellent synergy, as Bharath handles the electronics and software aspects of the rockets and Pawan takes over the mechanical side of it.
“I was closely observing how complex it all is,” says Pawan, while talking about how he didn’t think it was even possible for him to build space vehicles on his own. “But slowly, I realised it was feasible.”
“You see, most people want to start their own companies and at the back of my mind, I always wanted to start a company”. He followed his passion and the ideation phase of his company had already been revolving around in his head, right when he was in college.
“Launching satellites to space will soon become as easy as booking a cab- quick, precise and affordable!” is what the aerospace company has to say.