Fri. Sep 24th, 2021
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Bengaluru: Department of Space, Government of India, on Saturday 11 September entered into a Framework MoU with Skyroot Aerospace Pvt. Ltd., a Hyderabad based company founded by former engineers of the rocket design centre of ISRO and Indian Space and Defence programs

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The MoU, according to ISRO (it is ponderable why a press note was not issued in this regard) will provide Skyroot access to ISRO facilities and expertise towards the development and testing of subsystems and systems of Space Launch Vehicles.

Framework MoU will enable the company for undertaking multiple tests and access facilities at various ISRO centers and also enable (the company) to avail technical expertise of ISRO for testing and qualifying their space launch vehicle systems and subsystems. – ISRO

This means, the entire ISRO infrastructure, facilities, technical expertise and manpower will be at the disposal of the private company. Question arises, whether or not Skyroot will be just a facade and the actual design, production, testing and operation will be done by ISRO people. Will this not give rise to a conflict of interest, take Government of India and its ambitious privatisation progamme for a ride, and subvert the very purpose and constitution of IN-SPACe?
Skyroot representatives with Secretary DoS and Chairman ISRO Dr K Sivan (2nd from Left)

The MoU signing event was clubbed with a meeting between Secretary, DOS and ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan and representatives of Skyroot Aerospace, who presented the status of activities. Sivan has assured all support for successfully realising their launch vehicle.

The Framework MoU was signed by R Umamaheswaran, Scientific Secretary, ISRO and Interim Chairman IN-SPACe Committee, on behalf of DOS and Pawan Chandana, CEO Skyroot Aerospace.

In knowledgeable circles, it is being asked what was the hurry for the Interim Chairman IN-SPACe to rush with this MoU when the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has already approved the appointment of the Chairman and Board members of IN-SPACe. For the sake of transprancy and credibility they should have waited for another few days for the full-time Board to be in place because the present IN-SPACe dispensation could be described more as an interim in-house DoS-ISRO arrangement and Skyroot was already interacting with ISRO for more than a year.

Skyroot Aerospace was incorporated on 12 June 2018. The company was formed by former Indian Space Research Organisation scientists Pawan Kumar Chandana, Naga Bharath Daka and CureFit founder Mukesh Bansal, all of them Directors in the company

Pawan Kumar Chandana, Co-Founder, CEO & CTO of Skyroot is former ISRO Scientist. Alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, he has been a System Engineer and Deputy Project Manager of various Space launch vehicle projects of ISRO. Alumnus of IIT Kharagpur.

Alumnus of IIT Madras, Naga Bharath Daka, Co-Founder, COO, Head – Avionics & GNC is former Flight Computer Engineer at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, ISRO. He has been associated and designing of multiple Avionics modules for launch vehicles. He leads the Avionics and GNC teams at Skyroot.

Mukesh Bansal, Co-Founder Skyroot is also Founder and CEO of CureFit and founder and former CEO of Myntra & former Head of Commerce at Flipkart.

Padma Shri V Gnanagandhi, Skyroot Sr.Vice President- Propulsion, was former Associate Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), ISRO.

Skyroot has been developing its first launch vehicle, the “Vikram-I,” for initial launch around 2022. A year ago Skyroot test-fired the Raman-I hypergolic-fuel upper stage component of Vikram-I.

Earlier in May this year, Skyroot Aerospace, announced that it had raised $11 million from multiple investors as part of a Series-A funding round led by Greenko Group founders Anil Chalamalasetty and Mahesh Kolli. Chairman of Greenko Group is Om Prakash Bhatt. He is a former Chairman of State Bank of India and is currently serving as an independent director on the Boards of Hindustan Unilever Limited, Tata Consultancy Services Limited, Tata Steel Limited and Standard Chartered PLC. Anil Kumar Chalamalasetty is Chief Executive and Managing Director of Greenko. He co-founded and developed the Company with Mahesh Kolli in 2004 and incorporated it in early-2006 to raise funds for financing early operations. Mahesh Kolli is the founder President and Joint Managing Director of Greenko. He is responsible for business development and new project initiatives of the Group.

As per available reports, defence supplier Solar Group, former WhatsApp chief business officer Neeraj Arora, as well as others like Worldquant Ventures, Graph Ventures, Sutton Capital, Vedanshu Investments along with a few angels also participated in the funding round linked with Skyroot that was led by Greenko Group founders.

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