Spacetech startup Skyroot Aerospace develops indigenous cryogenic rocket engine Dhawan-I

Developed by Skyroot Aerospace, Dhawan-I is a 3D printed cryogenic engine which will be operating on liquid natural gas and liquid oxygen.

Skyroot Aerospace, the Hyderabad-based spacetech startup, on Friday unveiled its fully cryogenic rocket engine named 'Dhawan-1.’ The rocket engine will be operating on fully cryogenic rocket propellants like Liquid Natural gas (LNG) and Liquid Oxygen (LoX).

Unveiled on the occasion of the 100th birth anniversary of Indian rocket scientist Dr.Satish Dhawan, the startup said the engine has been named after the renowned scientist to honour and respect his critical role in the development of the Indian space sector, and for taking ISRO to new heights of success during his term as the ISRO Chairman in 1972.

According to an official statement, Dhawan-I is a 3D printed cryogenic engine and is completely a “Made in India” product.

“Our engine is named ‘Dhawan-I’ in honour of eminent Indian rocket scientist Dr. Satish Dhawan, who played an instrumental role in the development of the Indian Space Programme. Dhawan-I is a 100 percent 3D printed cryogenic engine with regenerative cooling,” said Naga Bharath Daka, Co-founder and COO, Skyroot Aerospace.

Dhawan- I will be operating on cryogenic rocket propellants- liquid natural gas (LNG) and liquid oxygen (LoX) [Image Credit: Skyroot Aerospace]

Cryogenic rocket engine: Dhawan-I

A cryogenic rocket engine uses liquid cryogenic fuel and oxidizer, stored at very low temperatures. According to reports, the cryogenic temperature has been defined to refer to temperatures below -150 degrees Celsius. Engines using cryogenic fuels are used in the upper stages of rockets for propulsion technology.

Explaining about Dhawan-I, Pawan Kumar Chandana, Co-founder and CEO, said, "LNG is a clean-burning, low-cost, highly-reusable, and safe cryogenic fuel, which is also ideal for long-duration deep space missions carrying satellites or humans.”

He added that the startup has completed tests to check the fuel flow and structural integrity of the engine. Skyroot is presently building a dedicated test facility to carry out “hot fire” testing of Dhawan-I.

The startup also revealed that this cryogenic engine is expected to be used in the upper stage of its Vikram -II rocket for propulsion.

Skyroot revealed that it's Senior Vice President V. Gnanagandhi, former ISRO scientist and Padma Shri awardee, is responsible for leading the cryogenic propulsion team.

Pawan and Naga, former ISRO scientists, had launched Skyroot Aerospace to develop privately built space launch vehicles. The startup’s Vikram series — named after ISRO founder Dr. Vikram Sarabhai — consists of three launch vehicles developed especially for launching small satellites.

Skyroot’s first vehicle ‘Vikram-I’ is under manufacturing, and is expected to be launched in December 2021. The vehicle is equipped with an Orbit Adjustment Module (OAM) at the top, which provides the final burn, and can insert multiple satellites into space.

Edited by Suman Singh


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