Skyroot Aerospace, a private Indian space-tech startup building an indigenous rocket for commercial missions, announced a bridge round funding of $4.5 million as it builds up towards the test launch of its rocket, Vikram, later this year. The latest round of funds will be used in building “critical infrastructure” to facilitate the launch of the Vikram rocket in 2022, according to Naga Bharath Daka, co-founder of Skyroot.
The startup has so far raised $17 million to fund its upcoming launch this year. Its Vikram-1 rocket, which is slated to be launched later this year, is powered by a solid propulsion engine, Kalam-5. Skyroot had showcased its engine in December 2020.
In November 2021, the startup also showcased its first, fully 3D-printed cryogenic second stage rocket engine, called Dhawan-1. The latter is slated to be used in Vikram-2, the second rocket being developed by the startup.
A cryogenic rocket engine uses more efficient fuels such as liquified natural gas (LNG) and liquid oxygen (LOx) stored at cryogenic temperatures of below 150 degrees Celsius. Such an engine is more efficient than solid propulsion rocket engines, as it provides rockets with more thrust — thereby using lesser overall energy in comparison to solid propulsion technology.
In a previous conversation with Mint in December 2021, Pawan Kumar Chandana, chief executive of Skyroot Aerospace, had stated that the company is eyeing a single launch in 2022, which will showcase the Vikram-1 rocket’s suitability towards affordable commercial space missions.
In India, Skyroot Aerospace is joined by fellow private space-tech startup Agnikul Cosmos, which is also eyeing the launch of its first rocket, Agnibaan, in mid-2022. Unlike Skyroot, Agnikul Cosmos is eyeing two launches this year, its chief operating officer Moin SPM had told Mint in an interview in November 2021.
Both Skyroot and Agnikul Cosmos claim that their latest rocket engines are fully 3D printed, which gives them flexibility to manufacture engines based on demand. Agnikul’s Moin had also confirmed that the company is working with satellite companies as its clients, while Skyroot’s clientele for its first launch remains unclear.
Skyroot’s latest bridge funding round was led by Sherpalo Ventures, and co-led by Wami Capital, Neeraj Arora and Amit Singhal.