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Vikram-S : India’s First Private Sector Rocket


  • Vikram-S, India’s first privately developed launch vehicle, recently took off from the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Sriharikota spaceport on its first flight.
  • Prarambh (the beginning) is the Indian private sector’s first foray into the lucrative space launch market.


GS Paper 3: Science and technology (space research)

Mains Question

Discuss India’s accomplishments in space science and technology. How has the use of this technology aided India’s socioeconomic development? (150 Words)

The Indian Space Sector

  • For the past 50 years, India’s space programme has been led by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
  • In terms of technological capabilities, India is one of the world’s top five spacefaring nations.
  • India is known around the world for producing low-cost satellites and launch vehicles.
  • Despite having the most advanced space programme in the world, India’s space sector accounts for only 2-3% of the global space economy.
  • The global space economy is estimated to be worth $440 billion USD.
  • To increase India’s share of global business, the government has initiated space sector reforms to promote, assist, regulate, and authorise private enterprises and start-ups to engage in space activities.

Approval of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Space Sector:

  • FDI in space is currently permitted only through the government route for satellite establishment and operation.
  • The government approves FDI in space on a case-by-case basis, which can take time.
  • However, as a result of the Indian government’s shift in approach toward private sector participation, Indian companies will be permitted to invest up to 100% and 70% through FDI with centre approval in all upstream, midstream, and downstream segments.

Concerning Mission Prarambh and Vikram-S:

  • It is a mission in which ISRO launched Vikram-S, India’s first privately manufactured launch vehicle developed by Skyroot Aerospace in Hyderabad.
  • The Vikram-S rocket, named after India’s space programme founder Vikram Sarabhai, is a single-stage solid fuel suborbital launch vehicle.
  • The vehicle travels slower than the orbital velocity in a sub-orbital flight, which means it is fast enough to reach outer space but not fast enough to maintain an orbit around the Earth.
  • The launch vehicle’s engine, Kalam-80, is named after former President A P J Abdul Kalam.
  • It will carry three customer payloads, two Indian and one foreign, including a FunSat by SpaceKidz India, parts of which were developed by school students.
  • The Vikram-S is a Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) that will carry payloads weighing between 290 and 560 kg into sun-synchronous polar orbits.


  • The performance of the Vikram-S and its engine, the Kalam-80, will aid in the testing and validation of technologies in the Vikram series space launch vehicles.
  • The company is developing three Vikram rockets that will use various solid and cryogenic fuels and have a carbon composite core structure.
  • The vehicle’s spin stability thrusters have been 3D printed.
  • The entry of private players into the Indian space sector, with more private sector missions on the way.
  • Agnikul Cosmos, for example, whose semi-cryogenic Agnilet engine was recently tested at ISRO’s vertical testing facility at Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS), Thiruvananthapuram.
  • ISRO’s SSLV is also expected to be manufactured and operated by private players in the near future.
  • Around 100 start-ups have registered with the ISRO and are collaborating with it in various areas of the space industry.

December 2023