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May 30, 2024

Agnikul Cosmos Launches Historic Agnibaan Rocket from Private Launchpad

India achieved a significant milestone in its burgeoning private space sector on Thursday with the historic launch of the Agnibaan rocket by Chennai-based startup Agnikul Cosmos. The Agnibaan SOrTeD, a single-stage technology demonstrator rocket, was launched at 7:15 am from Shriharikota, marking the first time a private launchpad in India has been used.

Agnibaan SOrTeD is noteworthy for featuring the world’s first single-piece 3D printed engine, designed and built entirely in India. This achievement follows a series of test flight cancellations, the latest of which occurred just days earlier. Despite these setbacks, Agnikul Cosmos’s successful launch is a monumental step for India’s private space industry, particularly as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has not yet achieved a successful flight using a semi-cryogenic engine, which employs a mix of liquid and gas propellants.

A K Bhatt, Director General of the Indian Space Association (ISPA), highlighted the significance of this event, stating, “What Agnikul has achieved today is nothing short of a historical milestone, akin to India’s maiden rocket launch in 1963 from Thumba launch station. This is a tremendous boost for India’s private space industry and offers a glimpse into what the future holds. Our hearty congratulations to the entire team behind this and best wishes for their future efforts.”

Bhatt also emphasized the broader implications of this success, noting that “this significant launch, coupled with the recently introduced guidelines for the implementation of the Indian Space Policy 2023 by IN-SPACe and the new FDI regulations, will undoubtedly bolster global confidence in India’s private space industry and its growing capabilities.”

The Agnibaan rocket is a customizable, two-stage launch vehicle capable of carrying payloads up to 300 kg to orbits nearly 700 km in altitude. This capacity is modest compared to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, which can transport 63,500 kg to low Earth orbit, but it is a significant achievement for a nascent space startup.

The success of Agnikul Cosmos follows in the footsteps of Skyroot Aerospace, another private company that successfully launched the Vikram-S sub-orbital vehicle from SDSC SHAR in November 2022, marking the first time a private player achieved such a feat in India.

Agnikul Cosmos was founded in 2017 by Srinath Ravichandran, Moin SPM, and SR Chakravarthy, a professor at IIT Madras. In December 2020, Agnikul became the first Indian firm to sign an agreement with ISRO, a landmark deal facilitated under the IN-SPACe initiative, which grants private companies access to ISRO’s expertise and state-of-the-art facilities. To date, Agnikul Cosmos has raised $42 million, making it one of India’s most funded space startups.

The launch of Agnibaan SOrTeD marks a new chapter in India’s space exploration endeavors, showcasing the growing capabilities and ambitions of the country’s private sector. As regulatory frameworks evolve and more startups enter the field, the future of India’s space industry looks promising, poised to make significant contributions on the global stage.

Read more latest news related news on R9 News

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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