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Indian spacetech start-up AgniKul one step closer to launching world’s first 3D printed rocket into space

NG Missile Vessels

Apr 9, 2023
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In yet another significant stride for the Indian spacetech sector, Chennai-based start-up AgniKul Cosmos has commenced the process of integrating its cutting-edge Agnibaan SubOrbital Technological Demonstrator (SOrTeD) at its private launchpad located at the iconic Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR in Sriharikota off the coast of Andhra Pradesh.

The integration process was initiated on Independence Day on August 15. A successful launch would make AgniKul the second Indian spacetech start-up to send its launch vehicle into space after Skyroot Aerospace.

Agnibaan SOrTeD is a single-stage launch vehicle powered by AgniKul’s patented Agnilet engine, which is an entirely 3D-printed, single-piece, 6 kilonewton (kN) semi-cryogenic engine. However, unlike traditional sounding rockets that launch from guide rails, Agnibaan SOrTeD will lift-off vertically and follow a predetermined trajectory to perform a precisely orchestrated set of manoeuvres during flight.

The flight events have been configured to validate key technologies integral to the success of the company’s upcoming orbital flights.

“This suborbital mission serves as a validation of the success of AgniKul’s proprietary autopilot, navigation, and guidance algorithms. It also serves as a crucial trial for gauging the launchpad’s preparedness for more ambitious undertakings,” said Srinath Ravichandran, the start-up’s Co-founder and CEO.

AgniKul, assisted by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the promotion and regulation body IN-SPACe, has ideated and built the launchpad. The launchpad and the mission control centre are separated by 4 kilometres, equipped with state-of-the-art technology to ensure independent and uninterrupted operations during the mission countdown.

“Building a launch vehicle entails the integration of diverse systems, and coming together of various teams spanning different disciplines uniting towards a common goal. This vehicle standing on the launchpad is a testament to everyone’s hard work in the team,” added Moin SPM, Co-founder & COO of AgniKul.

Although the launch date is not specified, the company said it intends to complete its maiden flight in the coming weeks.

World’s first 3D printed engine
The Agnibaan rocket, initiated by the ground-breaking Agnilet cryogenic engine, is described as a remarkably adaptable, two-stage launch vehicle. It is equipped to haul payloads of up to 100 kilos to a 700 km distance in the LEO. Experts have praised the rocket's ‘plug-and-play’ design that allows for accurate mission configuration.

The Agnilet engine, which powers the entire operation, is also the first of its kind. It is the world’s sole single-piece 3D-printed engine. Following its initial trial in early 2021, it was verified at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram.

Congratulating Team AgniKul, A Rajarajan, Director of SDSC-SHAR, noted, “Delighted to see the progress Agnikul team has made so far. They have our best wishes to have a successful first flight and further activities.”

Established in 2017 by aerospace engineers Srinath Ravichandran and Moin SPM, along with IIT-Madras faculty member Prof. Sathyanarayan R Chakravarthy, Agnikul emerged as the first Indian company to sign an agreement with ISRO in December 2020. This landmark partnership allowed the start-up access to ISRO's knowledge base and resources.

With total funding of $35 million, Agnikul continues to pioneer advancements in space technology, shattering glass ceilings and cementing India's position on the global space tech landscape.

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Skyroot had success in their first launch, hope Agnikool is successful too.
This would be India's 1st pvt liquid fuelled rocket and 1st rocket with a Kero-LOX engine Agnilet 🔥– an entirely 3D-printed, single-piece, 6 kN cryogenic engine.
Agnikul has patented it...
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