July 25, 2024
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Space

Agnikul Cosmos Launches First 3D-Printed Engine Rocket

Agnikul Cosmos

On Thursday, Agnikul Cosmos, a pioneering space start-up, successfully launched the world’s first rocket equipped with a single-piece 3D-printed engine from their bespoke launch pad, ‘Dhanush’, situated at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. This sub-orbital test flight involved the indigenously developed Agnibaan rocket, which boasts a semi-cryogenic engine. This achievement signifies a major milestone for India’s burgeoning private space sector, marking the second instance of a non-governmental Indian entity, aside from the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), undertaking such missions. The Agnibaan Sub-Orbital Technology Demonstrator (SOrTeD) mission, launched at 7:15 am, represents Agnikul’s fifth attempt since March 22, following several cancellations due to technical issues.

Isro chairman S Somanath, present at the launch, praised the mission’s success. “The achievement, encompassing several firsts including a 3D-printed semi-cryogenic engine and advanced flight control systems, underscores the strength of indigenous design and innovation. This success inspires Isro to further support space start-ups and private entities, fostering a robust space ecosystem and promoting Atmanirbharata (self-reliance) in the country.” Agnikul Cosmos, initially an incubated start-up at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, maintains a close association with the National Centre for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD) at the institute.

The Agnibaan rocket, a versatile two-stage launch vehicle, can deliver payloads of up to 300 kg into orbits approximately 700 km high. Its semi-cryogenic engine utilizes a mix of liquid and gas propellants, while the rocket’s ethernet-based avionics and in-house developed autopilot software distinguish it as a unique innovation in India.

Satyanarayanan R Chakravarthy, founding advisor of Agnikul Cosmos and head of the NCCRD at IIT Madras, expressed pride in their achievement. “We are proud to present India’s first semi-cryogenic rocket engine, also the world’s most integrated single-shot 3D-printed piece. This achievement highlights our unparalleled capability to rapidly assemble rockets.” Srinath Ravichandran, co-founder and CEO of Agnikul Cosmos, added, “This milestone is the result of thousands of hours of reviews and dedicated effort by our team.”

The company’s team comprises over 200 engineers, guided by 45 former Isro scientists, with plans to conduct an orbital mission by the end of the 2025 financial year. Pawan Goenka, chairman of the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), lauded the launch as a historic moment for India’s space sector. “The successful launch of the Agnibaan SOrTeD marks a significant milestone for private players contributing to India’s growing space sector,” Goenka told PTI.

Thursday’s launch advances India towards enhancing its capacity for launching small satellites, positioning the country as a potential future hub for such launches. Currently valued at around $8 billion, India’s space economy has the potential to grow to $44 billion by 2033, according to a vision unveiled by IN-SPACe. Notably, Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace was the first private Indian entity to launch its sub-orbital rocket, Vikram-S, in November 2022.

Source: https://www.indiatoday.in/science/story/agnikul-cosmos-launches-agnibaan-maiden-test-flight-isro-2545555-2024-05-30

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