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Skyroot to sign agreement with govt, test fires solid fuel engine

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By Venkatachari Jagannathan

Chennai, Dec 28 (IANS) Private sector rocket maker ‘Skyroot Aerospace’ that successfully test fired a solid propulsion rocket stage/engine called ‘Kalam-5’ recently, will soon sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with the Department of Space (DoS) to use the facilities of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said a top company official.

He also said the Central government should set up a ‘Space Fund’ to finance the space sector startups as the business takes a long gestation time and ISRO should expedite the building of its second rocket port at Kulasekarapattinam in Tamil Nadu.

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“We recently test fired a solid propulsion rocket stage — ‘Kalam-5’. It is a demonstrator solid rocket propulsion stage with exactly the same propellant, materials and interfaces as the three solid propulsion stages of ‘Vikram-1’ rocket,” Pawan Kumar Chandana, Co-Founder and CEO, told IANS.

According to him, the special feature of the engine is that it is built with advanced carbon composite structure in a completely automated process. The carbon composite case is very challenging to design and manufacture but is five times lighter than steel.

The engine was tested at Solar Industries, India’s largest explosive manufacturers and also an investor in Skyroot.

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In August 2020, Skyroot test fired its Raman engine. With Kalam-5, Skyroot has successfully demonstrated all its propulsion technologies in ‘Vikram-1’ rocket.

“The ‘Vikram-1’ rocket has three solid fuel-powered stages each with a burn time ranging between 80 and 100 seconds. The full scale solid fuel stage will be tested at the ISRO facility soon. The burn time will be 100 seconds,” Chandana said.

“We will be signing the non-disclosure agreement with the Department of Space in order to get access to ISRO facilities. The full scale solid fuel stage will be tested at ISRO’s rocket port in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh,” Chandana added.

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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.

Chandana said Vikram-1’s first three stages are powered by solid fuel stages and the fourth one or the kick-up stage is powered by liquid fuel.

Skyroot has raised $4.3 million till date and is in the process of raising another $15 million in 2021, he added.

“Like other countries, the Indian government should set up a ‘Space Fund’ to finance space sector startups. The players need long-term finance as it is a long gestation business and there are not many private financiers to provide the funds,” Chandana said.

He also said the construction of the second rocket port at Kulasekarapattinam in Tamil Nadu should be expedited so that less fuel could be expended while flying rockets to put the satellites into orbit.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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