SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has congratulated India on successfully conducting the third long-duration “hot test” of Vikas engine, a key part of the ambitious Gaganyaan mission to take Indians to space in an Indian vehicle. Replying to a tweet by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on the engine test, Mr Musk just wrote one word — “Congratulations!” with India’s flag emoticon. The ISRO said on Wednesday that it tested the human rated GSLV MkIII vehicle for engine qualification requirements for the manned mission and it was successful.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 14, 2021
ISRO said the engine was fired for 240 seconds at the space agency’s Propulsion Complex in Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. The test objectives were met and the parameters closely matched the predictions, it added.
Mr Musk, a lifelong space enthusiast who aims to make humans a multi-planetary species, founded SpaceX in 2002 with an aim to bring down the cost of space transportation. His company pioneered reusable rocket technology to achieve that goal.
Despite being competitors, Mr Musk has often praised ISRO’s efforts to achieve big with minimal cost. When ISRO launched 104 satellites on a single rocket in February 2017, Mr Musk said he was very impressed by the record-breaking feat.
Yeah, awesome achievement by ISRO. Very impressive!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 16, 2017
Last year, when SpaceX launched astronauts into Earth’s orbit aboard the Falcon 9 rocket, ISRO congratulated SpaceX and NASA on the “historic first launch”.
— ISRO (@isro) June 1, 2020
Several ISRO scientists, including its former chairman G Madhavan Nair, have praised the business model of SpaceX and the importance it gives to global marketing. According to a PTI report in March 2021, Mr Nair had praised Mr Musk for his leadership, vision and innovative management techniques. Mr Nair also added that India could learn from Mr Musk’s business strategy.
India’s Gaganyaan Mission was initially set to be launched in 2022, but it’s not clear if the deadline will be met because of the coronavirus pandemic. The mission’s objective is to demonstrate India’s capability to send humans to low earth orbit in an Indian vehicle — the heavy-lift GSLV Mk III — and bring them back to Earth.
There’s also a huge commercial interest in space travel. Recently, billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson flew to the edge of space for a test flight and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is set to fly to space later this month.