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ISRO, In-Space Sign MoU With Vyom Space To Build Private Space Capsules
A ‘capsule’ in a space mission is a module that contains any cargo that will be carried to space which houses the astronauts on manned missions
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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced on Tuesday that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Gurugram-based private space firm Vyom Space Exploration and Services Private Limited for its “human and cargo transportation capsule program.”
The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre, India's nodal space authorization body, facilitated the MoU.
The startup is being incubated by ‘JSIIC,’ according to ISRO. The organisation kept private details about the incubation program and ISRO's target timelines.
A ‘capsule’ in a space mission is a module that contains any cargo that will be carried to space. The capsule is what houses the astronauts on manned missions. With the exception of Elon Musk's SpaceX's reusable human and cargo module, Crew Dragon, the capsules have typically been single-use in nature.
Vyom Space's founder and CEO, Manish Kukreti told a newspaper that the company has been working with European research and development (R&D) partners to develop its product.
“India is not a market that is fully developed in terms of space infrastructure, so we had to work with global partners to develop our product. There will be a clear and obvious demand in the space industry for reusable capsules that can carry cargo and, eventually, humans and only the United States and China have been able to develop such a product thus far,” Kukreti said.
Kukreti also said that the company will deliver the first prototype of its space capsule to ISRO within the next 16 months, after which the capsule will be tested by the space body.
“We are developing only the core technology of the capsule itself and given ISRO's vast body of expertise in the other parts of a space mission, we wouldn't want to delve into every single aspect of it,” he added.
The signing of an agreement between ISRO and Vyom Space comes amid a string of successes for India's private space sector. Skyroot Aerospace, based in Hyderabad, became the first homegrown private space company to launch a rocket into space on November 18.
Pixxel and Dhruva Space launched their second round of satellites aboard ISRO's latest commercial mission a week later, on 26 November
Srinath Ravichandran, CEO of Agnikul Cosmos said last week that the company plans to launch its own rocket – India's first orbital private rocket – from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh before the end of the year.
According to Vyom's Kukreti, the company's own module will be reusable and thus an evolution of what ISRO's manned mission's first prototype module, Gaganyaan, will use.
“When it comes to Gaganyaan, the modules are all single-use, which means they don't have a lot of commercial viability. This is what we hope to provide to Isro missions,” he said.
While Kukreti refused to reveal the startup's funding details, he did admit that building a space capsule is a very capital-intensive task. He did, however, claim that the startup already has “commitments” from private investors worldwide.