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'Major milestone': Agnikul carries out successful sub-orbital launch of Agnibaan, India’s second privately-built rocket

Thursday’s launch had several firsts – Agnibaan SOrTeD is the first rocket to be launched from a private launch pad, the country’s first semi-cryogenic engine flight and the world’s first single-piece 3D printed engine, designed and built indigenously.
Last Updated : 30 May 2024, 03:14 IST
Last Updated : 30 May 2024, 03:14 IST

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Chennai: After several failed attempts, space tech start-up Agnikul Cosmos on Thursday successfully launched its first rocket, Agnibaan SOrTeD (Suborbital Technological Demonstrator), from its own launchpad within the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota near here.

The launch vehicle of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) incubated start-up is the country’s second privately-built rocket. Thursday’s launch had several firsts – Agnibaan SOrTeD is the first rocket to be launched from a private launch pad, the country’s first semi-cryogenic engine flight and the world’s first single-piece 3D printed engine, designed and built indigenously.

The launch is expected to help gather flight data and ensure optimal functioning of systems for Agnikul’s two-stage orbital launch vehicle, Agnibaan. The 18-metre tall rocket known as Agnibaan is designed for small satellites and can launch payloads of up to 300 kg into 700 km low earth orbit.

Agnikul Cosmos said all the mission objectives of this controlled vertical ascent flight were met and performance was nominal.

ISRO congratulated Agnikul Cosmos for the successful launch of the Agnibaan SoRTed-01 mission from their launch pad. “A major milestone, as the first-ever controlled flight of a semi-cryogenic liquid engine realized through additive manufacturing,” ISRO wrote on its X page.

ISRO chairman Dr S Somanath said the launch motivates ISRO to support space startups and non-governmental entities for innovation and 'Atmanirbharata' to create a vibrant space ecosystem in the country.

The Indian Space Association (ISpA) said what Agnikul has achieved today is nothing short of a historical milestone since India launched its maiden rocket in 1963 from the Thumba launch station.

“This is a huge boost and a proud moment for India’s thriving private space industry and just a glimpse into what the future holds for us, our hearty congratulations to the entire team behind this and best wishes for their future efforts,” Lt. Gen. A.K. Bhatt (Retd.), Director General, Indian Space Association, said in a statement.

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, he added.

The Chennai-based start-up was founded in 2017 by Srinath Ravichandran, Moin SPM, and Satya Chakravarthy, and became the first company in India to sign an agreement with ISRO under the IN-SPACe initiative.

The flagship launch vehicle, ‘Agnibaan’, is designed to be compatible with the mobile launchpad called ‘Dhanush,’ allowing for launch flexibility regardless of location. Agnibaan can be configured to accommodate payloads ranging from 30 kg to 300 kg, ensuring versatility across a wide range of mission requirements.

The startup is looking at flying an orbital mission towards the end of the financial year of 2025 and is working with customers on flights starting regularly from 2025 calendar year.

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Published 30 May 2024, 03:14 IST

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