Indian startup Skyroot Aerospace launched the country’s first privately developed rocket, Vikram-S, into space on Friday with support from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Until now, the country’s space industry has been dominated by the state-run ISRO, but Skyroot Aerospace has opened up the sector to private companies.
“The rocket launch will help test and validate the majority of the technologies in the Vikram series of orbital class space launch vehicles, including many sub-systems and technologies that will be tested across the pre-lift off and post-lift off phases of the launch,” according to Skyroot Aerospace.
The rocket, weighing 546 kilograms (1203 pounds), was launched from the Sriharikota spaceport and reached an altitude of 89.5 kilometers (55.6 miles).
This mission symbolizes not just India’s first private rocket launch but also “the potential of new India,” said Pawan Kumar Chandana, co-founder of Skyroot Aerospace after the launch.
Skyroot Aerospace was launched in 2018 and is based in the southern tech hub of Hyderabad. It was founded by former ISRO engineers and has raised $68 million in funding, according to data firm Tracxn.
Last year, it became the first startup to enter into an agreement with ISRO to use the Indian space agency’s expertise and to access facilities.
The space race in the private sector is heating up around the world. Last year, billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson each took supersonic joy rides to the edge of space.