Agnikul Cosmos achieves milestone with successful launch of ‘Agnibaan’

# IIT Madras startup Agnikul Cosmos launches world’s 1st rocket with fully 3D-printed engine

RNS: Agnikul Cosmos, a Chennai-based startup, has marked a significant achievement by successfully launching its Agnibaan SOrTeD (Sub-Orbital Technology Demonstrator) rocket from Sriharikota at 7:15 AM on Thursday. This milestone represents a substantial advancement for India’s growing commercial space sector.

The young team of engineers at Agnikul Cosmos, backed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), demonstrated their innovative spirit and determination by achieving this feat. The launch signifies a major development in India’s space capabilities and features the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed semi-cryogenic engine.

While this is the second launch by a private startup in India, it is the first to utilize a private launchpad established by the company at Sriharikota, the country’s only active spaceport.

ISRO congratulated Agnikul Cosmos on X (formerly Twitter), calling the achievement “a major milestone, as the first-ever controlled flight of a semi-cryogenic liquid engine realized through additive manufacturing.”

Traditionally, engine components are built separately and then assembled. However, using 3D printing technology is expected to lower launch costs and reduce vehicle assembly time. Agnikul’s goal is to provide cost-effective launch services for small satellites.

“We proudly unveil India’s first semi-cryo rocket engine, the world’s most integrated single-shot 3D printed item,” stated Professor Satyanarayanan R. Chakravarthy, the founding advisor of Agnikul Cosmos and chairman of the National Centre for Combustion Research and Development at IIT Madras. “This showcases an unparalleled capability to rapidly manufacture rockets.”

The launch vehicle, incubated at IIT Madras, featured the semi-cryogenic engine Agnilet, which operates on subcooled oxygen. Cryogenic engines, like those used in the upper stages of India’s heaviest launch vehicle, LVM3, utilize gases liquefied at extremely low temperatures.

The mobile launchpad, named Dhanush, allows the vehicle to launch from any location. Although this was a suborbital launch, the vehicle can carry payloads ranging from 30 to 300 kilograms.

The mission aimed to reach an altitude of around 8 kilometers before descending into the sea. Agnikul Cosmos plans to conduct its first orbital launch, capable of transporting satellites into Earth’s orbit, by the end of the fiscal year and offer regular launches next year. Skyroot, another private launch company, also plans its first orbital launch this year after a successful sub-orbital launch in 2022.

“This achievement is the culmination of the team’s hard work and countless hours of reviews,” said Srinath Ravichandran, co-founder and CEO of Agnikul Cosmos.

“We are fortunate to have had the support of IN-SPACe and ISRO to design and build original space-worthy hardware in India,” he added.

Founded in 2017 by two young aerospace engineers with a vision of making space access more accessible, Agnikul Cosmos aims to develop transportable and fully customizable launch vehicles for small satellites. Their approach utilizes advanced technology to reduce costs and enhance accessibility for global space missions.

ISRO played a crucial role in Agnikul’s success, providing technical support, access to facilities, and mentorship. This partnership was vital for the startup operating in the challenging field of rocketry.

The collaboration between Agnikul and ISRO highlights the potential for public-private partnerships to advance space technology and propel India’s commercial space industry forward.

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