On April 13th, the world’s largest airplane flew for the first time. The Stratolaunch plane, nicknamed Roc, hovered for a total of 150 minutes. According to Parabolic Arc reports, it reached a maximum altitude of 15,000 feet and a top speed of 189 mph. But it would not be the only satellite-launching aircraft in the future, as Vikram 1 is its new competitor.
The Stratolaunch aircraft, backed by Paul Allen and built by Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites, is designed to air-launch satellites using boosters carried on the wing between its two fuselages. After the successful test flight, everyone is wondering whether it would ever be able actually to launch a rocket or not. Sadly, Stratolaunch ended plans to produce its own rockets internally after Allen’s death this year.
Vikram 1 would be a fierce competitor for Stratolaunch in the satellite-launching aircraft industry
Launching commercially available rockets, such as Pegasus, is a difficult thing to imagine for an airplane of this size. We are going to keep an eye on the company’s plans on that matter. However, an India-based startup, Skyroot Aerospace, is developing a solid-propulsion-based launcher, the Vikram 1.
The startup is aiming to fly it for the first time sometime in 2021, as The Economic Times reports. The Vikram 1 booster, with “highly reliable solid-propulsion stages,” will have the capability to lift up to 280kg to LEO, the company says. The aircraft will have the ability to lift up to 280 kg to LEO, the company promises.
The CEO of Skyroot told The Economic Times that they are “one of the rare companies building expertise in both solid and cryogenic propulsion. Solid propulsion is the cheapest option for small launchers, and cryogenic propulsion is complex but provides the best efficiency and is highly scalable for larger vehicles.” Starting with Vikram 1, the company’s line of rockets is named after Vikram Sarabhai, who is seen as the program’s “father.” We will have to wait to see how far Skyroot’s business model will go.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.