Skyroot test fires India’s first privately-built cryogenic rocket engine
The rocket engine, named Dhawan-1 in honor of Indian rocket scientist Satish Dhawan, was developed using 3D printing technology and is powered by liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen, a high performance, inexpensive and clean rocket fuel, the company mentioned.
“This is a fully ‘Made-in-India’ cryogenic engine developed using 3D printing with a superalloy, reducing manufacturing time by over 95%,” said Pawan Kumar Chandana, co-founder and CEO of Skyroot Aerospace. “This test makes us one of the very few companies in the world to have successfully demonstrated this technology. ”
Cryogenic motors get this name due to the use of thrusters stored at cryogenic temperatures below 150 degrees Celsius.
With this milestone, Skyroot has demonstrated the three propulsion technologies that will be used in its first series of small satellite launchers, he said. In December of last year, the company successfully tested its Kalam-5 solid-propellant rocket motor, a larger version of which will be used to power the lower stages of its Vikram rocket.
“The complex transients of starting and stopping the engine (were) perfectly fluid, the combustion was very stable and the pressure was stable. This is a phenomenal achievement of our team and we have mastered the handling of two cryogenic fuels, ”said award winner Padma Shri V Gnanagandhi, who leads the cryogenic propulsion team at Skyroot.
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Skyroot is supported by the promoters of the renewable energy company Greenko Group, the explosives manufacturer and supplier of ISRO Solar Industries and the founder of Curefit, Mukesh Bansal.
The company is looking to develop and manufacture rockets that will propel small satellites into space at extremely low cost and with quick turnaround times. Besides 3D printing to make the rocket motors, Skyroot plans to use carbon composites to develop the rocket housing, a material that is lighter than steel, but stronger.
Skyroot also plans to be able to fire its rockets from portable launchers, which will provide a lot of flexibility for companies partnering with it.
In September of this year, the company became the first space technology company to formally enter into an agreement with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to use its facilities and access its expertise for the testing and qualification of its small satellite launchers, the first launch of which is scheduled for 2022. Skyroot was a finalist in the Top Innovator category of the 2021 edition of the Economic Times Startup Awards.