India launches its first privately owned space rocket

(ORDO NEWS) — The Vikram-S rocket, which weighs half a ton, was launched before noon local time. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) broadcast live.

According to the agency, the rocket landed safely in the sea six minutes after launch.

The rocket was developed by local startup Skyroot Aerospace. Vikram-S reached an altitude of 90 kilometers, which is below the 100-kilometer Karman line that separates the Earth from outer space.

“This is truly a new beginning, a new dawn… in the journey of India’s space program,” Science Minister Jitendra Singh said after launching the rocket from the ISRO launch complex on the southern island of Sriharikota.

The single-stage solid rocket was built using “carbon composite structures and 3D printed components,” the government said on Thursday ahead of the first Vikram-S mission, named Prarambh (“Launch”).

India has been building up its space program in recent years. In 2014, it became the first Asian country to send its Mangalyaan orbiter to Mars.

And in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed India as a space superpower after it shot down a low-orbiting satellite, sparking criticism over the amount of space debris it created.

India is also working to increase its 2% share of the global commercial space services market.

In October, ISRO’s heaviest rocket successfully launched 36 broadband satellites into low Earth orbit. Experts say India can cut costs by copying and adapting existing space technologies.

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