(This was originally posted in Economic Times)
Skyroot Aerospace, a Hyderabad-based space technology startup, has become the first private company to formally enter into an agreement with ISRO to use its expertise and access facilities to test and qualify its small rocket ahead of launch next year. “The Framework MoU will allow the company to undertake multiple tests and access facilities at various ISRO centres and avail the technical expertise of ISRO for testing and qualifying their space launch vehicle systems and subsystems,” the Indian Space Research Organisation said on Saturday.
Skyroot, founded by former ISRO scientists, is building the Vikram series of rockets to carry small satellites into space. The startup has already test fired its solid propulsion rocket engine named Kalam-5, whose bigger version will power its rockets. Skyroot is backed by the promoters of renewable energy firm Greenko Group, explosives manufacturer and ISRO supplier Solar Industries and Curefit founder Mukesh Bansal.
Skyroot and other rocket startups such as Agnikul Cosmos and Bellatrix Aerospace are looking at the growing global opportunity to build rockets and launch small satellites from Indian soil. Chennai-based Agnikul Cosmos had signed a non-disclosure agreement last year to test and qualify its small rocket that can launch 100 kg satellites into low earth orbit. A formal agreement is expected soon. Agnikul founder and CEO Srinath Ravichandran and Isro scientific secretary R Umamaheswaran signed the pact.
The agreement was signed on Saturday by R Umamaheswaran, scientific secretary at ISRO and chairman at Interim IN-SPACe Committee, and Pawan Chandana, who is the CEO of Skyroot Aerospace. India has formed IN-SPACe, the authorisation and regulatory body under the Department of Space for enabling private players to undertake space activities in the country.