Indian launch startup Skyroot successfully completes full-duration milestone test – TechCrunch

celestial rootIndia’s first private company to design, build and test a solid rocket propulsion stage, has achieved another key milestone in the development of its Vikram-I launch vehicle: a full-duration test of the rocket’s third stage.

The third stage, named Kalam-100 after Indian rocket scientist and former APJ president Abdul Kalam, is just part of the company’s first rocket. Vikram-I comprises three solid fuel stages, plus a liquid fuel starter stage designed to serve the small satellite launch market. It’s designed to carry up to 480 kilograms into low-inclination orbits, and the company says on its website that it’s designed to be assembled and launched from any launch site within 24 hours.

Vikram-I is one of a trio of rockets that Skyroot is currently developing; the other two, Vikram-II and Vikram-III, will be able to carry heavier payloads with multiple orbital insertions, Skyroot says.

The rocket stage test firing took place at a private firing range in Nagpur City, India, CEO Pawan Kumar Chandana told TechCrunch in an email. This range is owned by Skyroot investor and manufacturer of industrial explosives, ammunition and propulsion systems Solar Industries India.

The next steps will be test shots for Stages 1 and 2, Chandana said. The company’s existing funding, including an $11 million Series A and $4.5 million seed round, will cover most of the testing costs. Skyroot is raising a Series B to take the company to “several orbital launches,” he said.

All of this funding should get Skyroot to a technology demonstration launch by the end of this year, with the company’s first commercial orbital mission early next year. This launch would take off from India’s spaceport on the island of Sriharikota and make Skyroot India’s first private company to build and launch private rockets.

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