Dhawan-1: India’s first privately built cryogenic rocket


  • Recently, Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace announced that it has successfully tested India’s first privately built fully cryogenic engine ‘Dhawan-1’.

About Dhawan-1

  • The engine, which has been named in honour of eminent Indian Rocket scientist Dr Satish Dhawan, uses Liquid Natural Gas (more than 90 per cent Methane) and Liquid Oxygen cryogenic propellants, which are high performance, low-cost, and green.
  • This engine has a vacuum thrust of around 1.5 kilonewton (k)N and demonstrates upper stage technology of the firm’s orbital vehicle Vikram-2.
  • The cryogenic engines are highly efficient rocket propulsion systems that use propellants at cryogenic temperatures (less than minus 150 degree Celsius).
  • Skyroot Aerospace started India’s first private project to develop a small fully cryogenic engine with fabrication of a prototype engine to be used as a technology demonstrator in September 2020.
  • The rocket engine, named Dhawan-1 in honour of Indian rocket scientist Satish Dhawan, has been developed using 3D printing technology and is fuelled by liquefied natural gas and liquid oxygen—a high-performance, low-cost and clean rocket fuel.

    Dhawan-1: India’s first privately built cryogenic rocket
    Credit: Economic Times
  • Cryogenic engines are given the name due to the use of propellants that are stored at cryogenic temperatures of less than negative 150 degrees Celsius.
  • With this milestone, Skyroot has demonstrated all the three propulsion technologies that will be used in its first series of small satellite launch vehicles, it said. In December last year, the company successfully test fired its Kalam-5 solid propulsion rocket engine, a larger version of which will be used to power the lower stages of its Vikram rocket.

The Vikram Rocket

  • Vikram Rocket has been named after pioneering Vikram Sarabhai, who kickstarted the ambitious space program in India. He also conducted advanced nuclear research.
  • The rocket uses a combination of Liquid Natural Gas, which is more than 90 per cent methane.
    • Liquid Natural Gas is used in combination with Liquid Oxygen. In Combined form, it is called as “Methalox”, which form a cryogenic rocket fuel.
  • The combination provides for high performance and is having low cost.
  • The fuel is environmentally friendly. Thus, leading this fuel is dubbed as “Fuel of the future” by the Skyroot Aerospace engineers.

Source: Economic Times

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