India’s first private rocket Vikram-S built by Skyroot Aerospace was successfully launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota

The future of space technology is in reusable launch vehicle rockets, and city-based Skyroot Aerospace, which successfully fired its maiden flight last year, creating history as the first private sector firm to do so, has begun work on it alongside building a bigger cryogenic engine to launch the next Vikram-1 rocket, said CEO Pawan Kumar Chandana on Friday.

“We are going for methane-based rockets which is clean chemical and with high performance capacity. Space technology will see tremendous progress in the next 10-20 years with costs reduced. There could be a rocket taking off as frequently as planes and any part of the world could be reached in 30 minutes,” he said.

Delivering a talk titled ‘Skyroot journey and the future of space transportation’ at the seminar on ‘Recent trends in space sector: New India’, at CSIR-NGRI, Mr. Pawan Kumar said the country is rightly positioned to take advantage of the emerging technology due to the enabling role played by ISRO and government’s policy to nurture private sector.

“We can make anything 70-80% cheaper in comparison with any other country and we have the talent pool to make use of the opportunities. Space could be the next big thing after the IT revolution in the country. Space travel and tourism could well be possible within our lifetime,” he observed.

Tracing the growth of Skyroot, the CEO said it was a ‘leap of faith’ for him and his co-founder Naga Bharath Daka to give up their ISRO jobs and launch their startup four years ago amid much ‘scepticism’. “We have been amazed at the response to our successful maiden launch and it is a small step for the future,” he said.

Dhruva Space CEO Sanjay Nekkanti spoke about ‘Small satellites and technology revolution’ and his own firm role in launching two small satellites in November last year. “About 1 lakh satellites are to be launched from now till 2030 across the world into space and most of them are going to be small satellites. The thinking now is to have a constellation of satellites to provide fast internet to global population as 50% do not have access,” he said.

Mr. Nekkanti said there are a lot of countries which have not sent rockets into space but would want satellite-based communication, navigation and weather forecasting abilities for which smaller satellites could be preferred. He urged scientists of various departments to come up with payloads for incorporation into satellites which, when launched into space, can provide myriad solutions.