Vikram-S, India’s first privately developed rocket, was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on Friday. The rocket is from four-year-old startup Skyroot Aerospace.

“This is a giant leap for the private space sector in India. Congratulations to Skyroot for becoming the first Indian company to be authorised for launching a rocket,” Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre Chairman Pawan Goenka said.

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Skyroot Aerospace was founded by 31-year-old Pawan Kumar Chandana in 2018. 

“After months of sleepless nights and meticulous preparations from our team — super thrilled to announce our first launch mission #Prarambh from the beautifiul island of Sriharikota,” Pawan said in a statement. 

Who is Pawan Kumar Chandana?

Pawan Kumar Chandana is a mechanical engineering graduate from IIT Kharagpur. After graduation, he worked as a scientist at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from 2012 to 2018. 

“Towards the later days of my college years, I became fascinated with rockets. They were these fantastic machines that have the power to escape the earth’s gravity and go to space. We wouldn’t have so many things without them,” he said in a TedX talk.

After leaving ISRO, Chandana founded Skyroot Aerospace along with another IIT graduate, Naga Bharath Dhaka. Chandana built India’s first private launch vehicles and found a spot in the ‘Forbes 30 Under 30’ in 2020.

Skyroot Aerospace went on to become one of the first private players to test multiple rocket propulsion systems. In 2021, the company raised $ 11 million in a series A funding round and another $4.5 million in a series B funding.

“I believe rockets are the most fascinating machinery ever built by humans, and are now in need of a new techno-economic makeover, to open up a new frontier in space access and exploration,” his LinkedIn profile states.