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ISRO will launch Vikram-S, India’s first privately built missile today

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An official said the countdown to the launch of the Skyroot Aerospace-developed Vikram-S rocket, with three small satellites, will begin three hours before the scheduled take-off time of 11.30 am.

The countdown will start three hours before the launch. The missile is expected to take off at 11:30 am on Friday. The countdown time is less because it is a small rocket,” a senior official of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) told IANS.

Moreover, the single stage missile is solid fuel powered which also reduces the countdown time.

The official said the missile will be launched from ISRO’s missile launch pad at Sriharikota Missile Port.

On Friday, Skyroot Aerospace is expected to become the first private company in India to develop and fly a rocket.

The Hyderabad-based rocket startup was founded by Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharat Dhaka in June 2018. To date, the company has raised funds of Rs 526 crore and has around 200 employees.

Its 545 kg, six meter long rocket will carry three satellites from Space Kidz India, Bazoomq Armenia and N-Space Tech India.

The rocket engine will burn 25 seconds after take-off, at an altitude of 17.9 km. The missile will launch its payload at an altitude of 81.5 km.

India’s National Center for Space Promotion and Licensing (IN-SPACe) under the Ministry of Space (DOS) said on Thursday that it had authorized the launch of the rocket with three satellites.

According to IN-SPACe – the regulator for private space operators, the flight of the Vikram-S rocket is a technology demonstration flight to showcase the company’s capabilities.

It carries three PCB-based payloads for three customers equipped with sensors to measure acceleration, pressure, and other aspects.

This rocket will help validate technologies that will be used on Skyroot Aerospace’s subsequent Vikram-1 orbiter scheduled for launch next year, according to technical clearance from IN-SPACe, the organizer said.

However, IN-SPACe refused to answer two crucial questions such as when the draft National Aerospace Transportation Policy – ​​2020 will be approved and what financial guarantee or insurance cover the rocket launch company will provide to the sectoral regulator.

According to the original draft policy, the IN-SPACe license requires financial security or insurance cover by the bidder/launch company as part of its ownership towards fulfilling the state’s responsibility in accordance with international agreements.

“According to the regulations up to a certain value of the damage, the companies are liable and the state will then foot the bill. The liability determination process has been finalized and managed by INSPACe,” Secretary and Head of Space and ISRO Division, S. Somanath, told IANS.

He said that with regard to missiles, responsibility is determined according to the type of missile mission, its range, and others. ISRO will perform this exercise. For satellites, the issue of liability cannot be estimated and must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Chandana of Skyroot Aerospace told IANS that the insurance aspect was taken care of, but declined to name the insurance company and coverage citing a non-disclosure agreement.

IN-SPACe President Pawan Goenca told IANS that inquiries will be made after the launch of the Skyroot Aerospace rocket while he refused to answer the queries.

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