Singapore's GIC-backed Indian aerospace startup Skyroot Aerospace is planning to deploy a satellite into orbit next year. The founders of the start-up told Reuters that they expect to launch the satellite for half the price charged by established companies.
The Hyderabad-based startup launched India's first private rocket in collaboration with ISRO from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on November 18. The company will use the $68 million it raised in the next two launches and has been in contact with more than 400 potential customers.
Skyroot, which launched a test rocket last week, expects to cut the cost of a launch by 50 percent compared with the current pricing of established competitors such as Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit and California-based Rocket Lab USA Inc.
Pawan Chandana, one of Skyroot’s two cofounders, said he expected a surge in demand for the company’s launch services if it proves itself with launches set for next year.
“Most of these customers have been building constellations and will be launching them in the next five years,” he added.
A push by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration to increase India’s share of the global space launch market from just one percent has given investors confidence that Skyroot and other start-ups have government backing for their efforts.
“Three or four months back when we were talking to investors, one of the biggest questions they asked was if the government was supporting us,” Skyroot cofounder Bharath Daka said.
India opened the door to private space companies in 2020 with a regulatory overhaul and a new agency to boost private-sector launches.
Skyroot, founded in 2018 when Chandana and Daka quit jobs at ISRO, has set a target to develop rockets for one-fifth of the current industry costs, Reuters reported.
Chandana and Daka believe the per-kilogram launch cost for a satellite can be brought down to nearly $10, from thousands of dollars currently, a stretch target that could upend the economics of space commerce and one that draws inspiration from their idol: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.