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Vikram S: India’s First Private Satellite Vehicle

Nov 11, 2022

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Enhance your UPSC CSE preparation with our daily dose of Current Affairs wherein we discuss topics that make news at National and International level. In today's edition of our Current Affairs, we will discuss Vikram S: India’s First Private Satellite Vehicle. The topic's relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus is mentioned below.

Prelims Topic: Science and Technology

Vikram Series, sub-orbital launch vehicle, mission ‘Prarambh’, Skyroot Aerospace, IN-SPACe(Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre), Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre(VSSC).

Mains Topic: GS3-Science & Technology

About Vikram Series (Vikram-S), Mission Prarambh, Need for Satellite Launch Vehicles in India.

Context

Recently Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace has made history by launching India’s first privately developed launch vehicle named ‘Vikram’, under the mission called ‘Prarambh’ (the beginning).

Probable Question

With the launch of ‘Vikram S’, India’s first private satellite vehicle, explain the significance of private players in the space sector. (10 Marks, 150 Words)

About Vikram Series (Vikram-S)

  • The Vikram-S rocket is a single-stage sub-orbital launch vehicle. The Sub-orbital flights travel slower than orbital velocities, i.e. they are fast enough to reach outer space but not fast enough to stay in orbit around the Earth.
  • A Chennai-based aerospace startup named ‘Spacekidz’ has developed ‘Fun-Sat’, a 2.5 kg payload by students from India, the US, Singapore, and Indonesia, that will fly on Vikram-S.
  • The name ‘Vikram’ is a tribute to Vikram Sarabhai, founder of the Indian space program. 

Significance

  • Multiple Usage: It will carry three customer payloads and help test and validate technologies in the Vikram series space launch vehicles.
  • Demand: Vikram-S has been crafted especially for the small satellite market.
  • Unique Capabilities: The leading technology architecture of Vikram vehicles offers unique capabilities like: Multi-orbit insertion, and interplanetary missions; Provides customized, dedicated, and ride-share options covering a wide spectrum of small satellite customer needs.
  • Quick Assembling: Vikram rocket can be assembled and launched within 24 hours from any launch site.
  • Cost Saving: It has the “lowest cost in the payload segment”.

Mission Prarambh

  • The mission ‘Prarambh’ aims for Vikram-S to carry three customer satellites in a sub-orbital flight. 
  • The mission is an initiation of Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace, a startup.
  • Skyroot has become the first startup to sign a memorandum of understanding with ISRO for launching its rockets.
  • The IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre) has also supported Skyroot for the mission and launch.

Need for Satellite Launch Vehicles

Small satellites: It weighs between 5-1,000 kg, and had to remain content with hitching a ride to space on rockets commissioned to carry some other, larger satellites.

  • Ever-growing Need: The demand for the launch of small satellites has increased at a rapid pace in the last decade, due to the ever-growing need for space-based data, communication, surveillance, and commerce. 
  • Versatile Usage: The need for satellite data, imageries, and space technology now cuts across sectors, from weather to agriculture to transport to urban development.
  • Rising Demand: The rising demand for satellites and the failure of dedicated organizations to supply the same, open the way for private players in the sector.

In India

  • In India, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is capable of launching satellites into space.
  • However, the demand for satellites is fast outrunning its capacity, as the space agency also has other larger goals that need to focus on. 
  • ISRO is assisting other private players or startups with facilities and knowledge. The use of facilities can be chargeable, providing ISRO with revenue.
  • Recently, the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), ISRO’s lead center for the development of launch vehicles, facilitated the hot testing of a rocket engine developed by Indian space startup Agnikul Cosmos, as part of an MoU between them.
  • VSSC has also successfully conducted the 15-second hot test of the Agnilet Engine at its Vertical Test Facility, Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS), Thiruvananthapuram.

Other Initiatives of Skyroot

  • Skyroot has been working on these three forms of Vikram-S, viz: Vikram I: It can carry 480 kg to 500 km Low Inclination Orbit and 290 kg to 500 km sun-synchronous polar orbits (SSPO); Vikram II: It can carry 595 kg to 500 km Low Inclination Orbit and 400 kg to 500 km sun-synchronous polar orbits (SSPO); Vikram III: It can carry 815 kg to 500 km Low Inclination Orbit and 560 kg to 500 km sun-synchronous polar orbits (SSPO).
  • More than 20,000 small satellites are estimated to be launched in the coming decade, and the Vikram series is designed to enable this through unprecedented mass production and affordability.

News Source: The Indian Express

https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-sci-tech/private-satellite-vehicle-all-you-need-to-know-about-vikram-8259258/

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