space: From launch vehicles to space tourism, Indian space start-ups aim high


From launch vehicles to space tourism, India’s space sector start-ups are set to soar after Skyroot Aerospace’s maiden suborbital flight from the spaceport at Sriharikota on Friday.

The Vikram-S rocket, developed over the past two years and built using 3-D printing technology, reached an altitude of 89.5 km. Chennai-based Agnikul Cosmos is set to test its Agnibaan-1 in a suborbital flight sometime next month.

“We plan to have the first launch of Agnibaan before the end of this year,” Srinath Ravichandra, co-founder of Agnikul, told PTI.

Earlier this month, Agnikul received flight termination system from Indian Space Research Organization, the first-ever such transfer for a launch vehicle developed by the private sector. As Skyroot and Agnikul focus on launching payloads in orbit, Space Aura Aerospace Technology Pvt Ltd and Astroborne Space and Defense Technologies are planning forays in space tourism and development of crew modules and space suits, respectively.

“We plan to set up India’s first private astronaut training facility soon,” Akshat Mohite, co-founder and CEO of Astroborne Space and Defense Technologies said.

“The maiden launch by a new start-up has significantly enhanced the credibility for Indian private space players around the globe. The capability that the sector has been claiming has been demonstrated in Space,” Indian Space Association Director-General Lt Gen AK Bhatt told PTI.

Bhatt said India’s space economy was set to grow to USD 13 billion and the space launch segment was estimated to grow the fastest by 2025.

It will be further spurred by growing private participation, latest technology adoption and low cost of launch services and this launch is a major landmark for this growth to take place in the coming years, he said.

Inspired by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Mumbai-based Space Aura has begun developing a space capsule measuring 10 feet x 8 feet to ferry six tourists and a pilot into space.

Space Aura CEO Akash Porwal said he planned to have the maiden launch of the space capsule using a high-altitude balloon by 2025.

The space capsule will be propelled by a balloon filled with helium or hydrogen gas up to 30 to 35 km above sea level where space tourists can witness the Earth’s curvature and the blackness of space for around an hour, Porwal said.

The space balloon will be slowly deflated and a parachute unpacked to bring down the spaceship. At a definite point, the space balloon will be detached from the capsule and the tourists brought down safely.

Porwal said his company had identified two places in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh from where the flight into space could be launched.

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