Skyroot, a private aerospace startup, founded and led by former ISRO scientists, has developed a cryogenic engine that runs on Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and Liquid Oxygen (LOx). Skyroot is the first private firm which has manufactured India’s first upper stage cryogenic engine independently.
The company has successfully raised approximately $4.3 million in funds and already test-fired a bi-propellant engine named Raman during the starting of this year and now are all set to prepare the new engine Dhawan-I, named after Indian rocket scientist Dr. Satish Dhawan.
Naga Bharath Daka, Co-founder and COO said that the company will be using LNG (Liquid Nitrogen Gas) and LOX (liquid oxygen). The company has already done some necessary tests like checking the flow of the fuel and oxygen having appropriate flow for the mechanism to run smoothly. The startup has also done structural integrity tests.
The development of this new engine (Dhawan) is in the hands of V Gnana Gandhi, a former scientist of ISRO and one of the pioneers of cryogenic technology in India. He was leading a team in Russia in the 1990s as a part of the Indian cryogenic program. Mr. Gandhi has vast experience in space related programmes as he has worked on various ISRO projects.
V Gnana Gandhi said- The technology demonstrator engine is ready and has been fabricated. We have even developed the ignitor, but there is a lot of work still left to be done”. According to him, the engine will be small as it has to be used on the upper stage on the second launch vehicle the company is designing.
He also stated –“This will contain about 60 kg of LNG and about 120 kg of LOX. The engine is been designed for the vehicle which will weight around 300kg -400 kg on the surface of the earth and in its lower orbit. It will be a small size engine. After weighing the complications with liquid hydrogen, the company has started focusing on methane and liquid natural gas (LNG). Giving the example of companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, the COO explained why methane is a better option and why the company has chosen it.
The space-tech startup Skyroot has chosen land in Nagpur where the test will take place and the place belongs to one of their investors.