India successfully launched its first privately developed rocket, the Vikram-S, on Friday, a milestone in the country’s effort to create a commercial space industry and to compete on cost.
The 545-kg rocket, developed by space startup Skyroot, took off from the Indian space agency’s launch site near Chennai and hit a peak altitude of 89.5 kilometers.
The rocket has the capability of reaching Mach 5 — five times the speed of sound — and carrying a payload of 83 kg to an altitude of 100 kilometers, the company said.
The Skyroot team had set a target of 80 km for its first launch, a benchmark some agencies define as the frontier of space.
The Karman line — set by an international aeronautics body as defining the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and space — is at 100 km altitude. Video footage showed the rocket taking off from the space center, leaving a plume of smoke and fire in its trail.—Agencies