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SOURCE:  The Financial Express

Skyroot Aerospace, a National award-winning start-up is building India’s first privately built space launch vehicles. It has completed its Series A financing successfully, with USD 11 million. This according to the start-up is the largest investment within the Indian Space Startup scene after the government announced the opening up the Space sector for private players.

According to the company note USD 11M Series-A was led by Greenko Group founders Anil Chalamalasetty & Mahesh Kolli; and there was participation from other public listed entity Solar Group (a major Space & Defence supplier); Former-Whatsapp CBO Neeraj Arora; existing investor Mukesh Bansal (founder of Myntra & CureFit), Vedanshu Investments, Worldquant Ventures, Graph Ventures, Sutton Capital and others.

According to Pawan Kumar Chandana, Co-Founder and CEO of Skyroot, “We are excited to work with them in building Skyroot into number one Space player globally.” Adding, “We have signed an agreement with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), and that we will be working closely for our launch and testing requirements.

Naga Bharath Daka, Co-Founder and COO of Skyroot, “This adds more fuel to our rocket programme. It will also help in completing development and testing of all subsystems of our first launch vehicle Vikram-1.”

The company has already started bookings for launches which are expected to take off from mid- 2022. They plan to raise USD 40M which will be used in their future programmes over the next few years.

Pawan Kumar Chandana, Co-Founder and CEO of Skyroot, talks to Huma Siddiqui and shares more about his start-up.

Following are excerpts:

Tell more about your Start Up.

Founded by former Scientists of the Indian Space Research organization (ISRO), we at Skyroot are a National award-winning startup building one of the world’s most cost effective Space Launch Vehicles. In simple words-we build rockets for launching payloads (satellites for now and in future humans as well) to Space. Our mission is to democratize Space access by building affordable, reliable and responsive launch vehicles.

We are a world class team of 70+ rocket engineers with a cumulative experience of 500+ years in the rocket industry and we have been actively developing our Vikram series of launch vehicles for the past two years. We are the first Indian private company to test fire multiple rocket propulsion systems.

With the government opening the space sector to private players — how has it helped you?

Though opening up Space sector for private players was an eventuality we anticipated. ISRO announcing that it is their mandate to help private players with all facilities they need (in testing and launching) to meet their goals has been huge booster for us and has saved both our development costs and timelines. Utilizing existing facilities at ISRO will keep our core focus towards product development and save tons of money on re-building similar infrastructure.

We have signed up with ISRO to be able exchange information that is needed to be able utilize their testing and launch facilities in the future. ISRO has been super helpful throughout our journey.

What launches do you have planned?

We are targeting our first orbital launch of Vikram 1 around mid-2022. Post success, within few years, we would work towards building production capability to achieve a launch cadence of one launch a week.

Today, Satellites are indispensable part of our lives starting from the GPS we use on our mobiles for navigation, direct to home television, disaster response, urban planning, border surveillance and to providing internet in remote locations. However, reaching space has always been expensive and in the domain of government and large corporates.

Development of low-cost, reliable Space launch vehicles that can be produced, assembled and launched quickly is the key to enable the satellite industry (therby Space based services) to come up with innovative constellation-based solutions for application in various domains.

Hence solving the problem of Space access is first necessary step to pave way for trillion-dollar space ecosystem and this is going to tremendously improve quality of life on earth.

More about the Vikram series of launch vehicles

Vikram series is our flagship series of Space launch vehicles named after the father of Indian Space program-Dr Vikram Sarabhai. Our first objective is to commercialize Vikram-1 and also roll out the follow-on variants Vikram-2 and 3 which are essentially 80% same with a 20% upgrade but together cover the largest payload ranges from launching 1kg to 700kg of satellites not possible by existing vehicles in the market. The lower rocket stages of Vikram series are powered by low-cost, mass-produce able and high thrust solid propulsion while the final satellite insertion stage is a liquid propellant based stage which gives higher payload efficiency and mission flexibility with high restart capability. This is a unique architecture ideal for small satellite launch vehicles bringing costs down while being able to produce rockets at speeds unseen before.

Are you talking to other countries or the private space sector companies globally to work on projects?

Yes, more than 95% of our market comes from abroad and we actively interact with global customers (mainly satellite companies) and also look for strategic collaborations. We have a growing pipeline of interested customers who see great value in our solutions. The geographies are mainly from USA and Europe.