Skyroot Aerospace successfully test fires Stage-2 of Vikram-1 orbital rocket at SHAR Range

Chennai, Mar 29 (UNI) In a significant development towards its upcoming orbital space launch, Skyroot Aerospace, India’s leading space-tech company, has successfully test-fired the Stage-2 of Vikram-1 space launch vehicle, called Kalam-250, for 85 secs at the propulsion testbed of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), at its Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota..

The test fire was conducted on March 27, a statement from the start-up said on Friday.

Vikram-1 launch is slated to be a landmark event for the Indian space sector as its first private orbital rocket launch, and follows the remarkable suborbital space launch of India’s first private rocket- the Vikram-S by Skyroot in November 2022.

The test which lasted 85 seconds recorded a peak sea-level thrust of 186 kilonewtons (kN), which will translate to a fully expanded vacuum thrust of around 235kN in flight.

The Kalam-250 is a high-strength carbon composite rocket motor, which uses solid fuel and a high performance Ethylene-Propylene-Diene terpolymers (EPDM) thermal protection system (TPS). The stage houses a carbon ablative flex nozzle along with high-precision electro-mechanical actuators for thrust vector control of the vehicle, which helps the rocket achieve the desired trajectory.

This test also had an important contribution from another centre of ISRO, the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), which supplied its proprietary head-mounted safe arm (HMSA) for the test, used for the safe operation of the rocket stage.

The solid propellant in Kalam-250 was processed by Solar Industries at their unique facility in Nagpur.

Skyroot had previously tested Kalam-100, the third stage of Vikram-1, which was test-fired successfully in June 2021. Stage-2 is a critical stage in the ascent of the launch vehicle, as it propels it from atmospheric phase to the deep vacuum of outer-space.

Pawan Chandana, Co-Founder and CEO stated “This is a significant milestone for the Indian space industry, marking the successful test of the largest propulsion system ever designed and manufactured by the Indian private sector so far, and the first carbon-composite-built motor tested at ISRO. All test parameters are within expected bounds, and this achievement takes us another step closer to the upcoming orbital launch of the Vikram-1 rocket.”

Naga Bharath Daka, Co-Founder and COO of Skyroot, said “in this landmark test, we validated the critical system for the launch—the flex nozzle control system—during firing for the first time, making this an important milestone in our journey. We have a few more milestones to cross and are focused on achieving them in the coming months to reach our maiden orbital launch of the Vikram-1 in 2024.”

“We have been steadily progressing on our milestones due the perseverance and dedication of our incredible team, and the excellent support from IN-SPACe and ISRO”, he said.

Meanwhile, ISRO in an update said SDSC-SHAR/ISRO, Sriharikota facilitated the static test of the S2 motor of Kalam-250 Rocket designed and developed by Skyroot Aerospace, Hyderabad at SDSC’s propulsion testbed.

The test was enabled by the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), which is a single-window, independent, nodal agency that functions as an autonomous agency in the Department of Space (DOS).

It is formed following the Space sector reforms to enable and facilitate the participation of private players.

Leveraging expertise and infrastructure, SDSC SHAR offered a comprehensive technical assessment and feasibility study, selecting the 6A-High Capacity test bed for the test execution. VSSC/ISRO provided its in-house developed head-mounted safe arm (HMSA) for the test, essential for ensuring the safe operation of the rocket stage.

Upon receipt of the test article, rigorous evaluations were conducted, including Nondestructive Testing (NDT) to ensure motor integrity. Meticulous integration activities followed the motor alignment, in-situ thrust calibration, and Flex Nozzle Control (FNC) Actuation trials on the test bed. An extensive array of instrumentation systems, comprising approximately 196 measurements across various parameters such as thrust, pressure, strain, temperature, heat flux, acoustics, vibration, displacement, and pyrotechnics, were executed.

SDSC-SHAR support included post-fire quenching systems, high-speed photography, and video capture, ensuring a comprehensive test environment. On March 27, 2024, after rigorous technical reviews and clearances, the test was successfully conducted. All testbed systems, including instrumentation, performed within normal parameters, affirming the safety and efficacy of the test.

In adherence to the provisions of the MOU and Joint Project Implementation Plan (JPIP), digital data, including high-speed camera images, were furnished to M/s. Skyroot Aerospace to enable upcoming orbital space launch. This support underscores ISRO’s commitment to fostering technological advancements and facilitating innovative endeavors by non-governmental entities in the aerospace domain, ISRO SAID.

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