Space Startup Skyroot Aerospace Unveils India’s 1st Privately Developed Cryogenic Rocket Engine

  • Skyroot Aerospace, an Indian space startup, has unveiled its indigenously developed cryogenic engine – Dhawan-I.
  • Cryogenic is a generic term that can be used to describe temperatures below -150 degrees Celsius.
  • This is India’s first fully Cryogenic engine running on futuristic fuel LNG.
  • The cryogenic engine won’t see action in Vikram-I and is meant for their bigger rocket Vikram-II. 

Skyroot Aerospace, an Indian space startup, has unveiled its indigenously developed cryogenic engine – Dhawan-I. This cryogenic engine is meant to fuel the upper stage of their rocket Vikram -II.

This comes on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Professor Satish Dhawan, a pioneer who spearheaded ISRO’s efforts as the organization’s second Chairman.

first private cryogenic rocket engine

Skyroot Aerospace has already tested a solid-fueled engine, but the cryogenic engine is even more significant because of the extreme complexity in the technology and the handling of its fuels. A cryogenic engine uses liquid fuel and an oxidizer that is maintained at extremely cold temperatures.

Cryogenic is a generic term that can be used to describe temperatures below -150 degrees Celsius. Such engines are used in the uppermost stages of rockets, which are used for propulsion in space. This is India’s first fully Cryogenic engine running on futuristic fuel LNG.

The Cryogenic propulsion team is led by V. Gnanagandhi an ex-ISRO scientist and Padmashri awardee who is also the Senior Vice President at Skyroot.

Pawan Kumar Chandana, CEO of Skyroot Aerospace says that their team has successfully completed many tests to check the fuel flow and structural integrity. He added that they were building a dedicated test facility for hot-fire testing of this engine. 

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While the company has successfully tested the upper-most stage engine of its first rocket Vikram-I, the initial stage engines of Vikram-I are being manufactured.

If all goes well, the company is looking forward to a maiden launch of Vikram-I by December 2021, with the support and guidance of the Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO). The cryogenic engine won’t see action in Vikram-I and is meant for their bigger rocket Vikram-II. 

In terms of payload capacity, Vikram I is meant to lift 225 kg to 315 kg. While Vikram II is designed for 410 kg to 520 kg payload capacity.

Speaking at a virtual Conference that held from September 15 to 17 Dr. K Sivan, ISRO Chairman and the Secretary at the Department of Space (DoS), said, “Domestic and international space requirements have increased multifold, and thus private sectors must come forward to contribute.”

“ISRO will provide various opportunities to startups and MSMEs for developing products and services, and will also empower them to carry out their own space missions,” he added.

Unlike USA, there are a very few number of private players in Indian space sector and the number is gradually increasing.

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