India's Skyroot expects to double rocket launches amid Chandrayaan-3's success

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows Skyroot Aerospace logo

By Rishika Sadam

HYDERABAD (Reuters) - Skyroot Aerospace, which launched India's first private rocket in 2022, aims to double its planned launches starting next year on a likely boost to the country's fledgling private space sector from the success of the Chandrayaan-3 moon mission.

The Hyderabad-based company, backed by Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, GIC, is also aiming to raise more money by the end of next year, co-founder Pawan Kumar Chandana told Reuters in an interview.

"From 2024 and later, we're looking at at least two launches per year and will probably ramp up as we move further," said Chandana, whose company is set to send its second rocket to space by the end of the year.

Chandana, a former scientist at the Indian Space Research Organisation, said he was receiving "a lot of messages from global and domestic investors" who want to understand Skyroot's business ever since India became the first country to achieve a safe landing on the lunar south pole.

The company conducted India's first private rocket launch looking to cut satellite launch costs in an industry fast getting crowded as various firms build out networks to deliver broadband services, which need small satellite launches.

Chandana said the company plans to ramp up its 280-member workforce by 20% in the next two years to support the expected increase in launches.

It is also planning a fundraising in 2024, more than the $51 million raised in its last round led by GIC, Chandana said, without giving further details.

"We're well funded for now. So, the next large fundraising round, the Series C round, will probably be in 2024 end," Chandana said.

(Reporting by Rishika Sadam; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Dhanya Ann Thoppil)