An Indian space startup, Skyroot Aerospace, has unveiled its indigenously developed cryogenic engine Dhawan-I on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Prof. Satish Dhawan who was a pioneer who spearheaded ISRO’s efforts as the organization’s second Chairman. The cryogenic engine is meant to fuel the upper stage of their rocket Vikram-II.
The company has already tested a solid-fueled engine. But according to the company, the cryogenic engine is even more significant because of the extreme complexity in the technology and the handling of its fuels. It is revealed that the cryogenic engine would be powered by Liquid Natural gas as fuel(LNG) & Liquid Oxygen as oxidizer (LoX).
The LNG being used comprises over 90% methane gas which makes it a clean-burning, low-cost, and highly re-usable field. It is also well suited for long-duration space missions.
According to the CEO of Skyroot Aerospace,Pawan Kumar Chandana their team has successfully completed many tests to check the fuel flow and structural integrity. He also said that they were also building a dedicated test facility for hot fire testing of this engine.
The company is looking forward to a maiden launch of Vikram-I by December 2021. It has successfully tested the upper-most stage engine of its first rocket Vikram-I and its initial stage engines are being manufactured. The cryogenic engine is meant for their bigger rocket Vikram-II and would not see action in Vikram-I.
Vikram I is meant to lift 225 kg to 500 km Sun Synchronous Polar Orbit(SSPO) and 315 kg to 45º inclination 500 km Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in terms of payload capacity. Vikram II is designed for 410 kg to 500 km SSPO and 520 kg to 45º inclination 500km LEO. In the case of Vikram III, the company is looking at 580 kg to 500 km SSPO and 720 kg to 45º inclination 500 km LEO.