Skyroot Aerospace successfully test fires a solid propulsion rocket stage

By T E Narasimhan

Skyroot has successfully test fired a solid propulsion rocket stage (named Kalam-5). This is the first time in India that a private company has successfully designed, developed and tested a full solid propulsion rocket stage. Meanwhile, Mukesh Bansal, Vedanshu investments backed space start-up is looking to raise around $15 million.

A special feature of this is that it is built with advanced carbon composite structure in a completely automated process. Carbon composite case is very challenging to design and manufacture but is five-times lighter than steel, said Pawan Kumar Chandana, co-founder & CEO, Skyroot

He added that Kalam-5 uses 15 different advanced materials, 9 different manufacturing processes, and has zero moving parts. This is a major milestone for Skyroot & for the Indian private space sector. "The test results closely matched our predictions and this success gives great confidence for our Vikram-I vehicle development,” said Chandana.

Test firing of Vikram-1 launch vehicle’s third stage (Kalam-100) is planned in a few months at ISRO facilities, added Naga Bharath Daka, co-founder & COO, Skyroot The company's first launch vehicle ‘Vikram-I’ is under active manufacturing and targeting launch in Dec 2021 with the help of ISRO.

Chandana said, with this test along with the company's Raman Engine test firing done in August 2020, Skyroot has demonstrated all propulsion technologies in Vikram-1 vehicles.

Kalam-5

Company's first launch vehicle ‘Vikram-I’ is under active manufacturing and targeting launch in Dec 2021 with the help of ISRO.

With this, Skyroot unveils the first of five Kalam series of solid rocket motors with a thrust ranging from 5kN to 1000kN (~100 Tons). The remaining four motors are in various stages of manufacturing and will be tested in 2021.

Kalam-5 is a demonstrator solid rocket propulsion stage with exactly the same propellant, materials and interfaces as the three solid propulsion stages of Vikram-1 launch vehicle. It gives a peak sea level thrust of 5.3kN and is designed to take 66 atmospheres and 30000C of combustion pressure and temperature respectively. This is also 1:4 scale in size of our Vikram-1 3rd stage, he said.

The solid motors are high thrust, low-cost rocket engines with propellant in solid form. They are highly reliable as they have very few moving parts. Testing was done at a private test facility on December 22 in Nagpur owned by Solar Industries- India's largest explosives manufacturer and a leading space and defence contractor (also partner and investor in Skyroot).

Founded by former scientists of the Indian Space Research organization (ISRO), Skyroot has raised $4.3 million till now and is in process of raising another $15 mn in 2021.

In the past the company has raised investments from: Mukesh Bansal (Founder Myntra, CureFit), Solar Industries (India’s largest explosives manufacturer and renowned Space & Defence Contactor), Vedanshu investments and a few other Angel investors.


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