Agnikul Cosmos Launches India’s Second Privately Built Rocket

Agnikul Cosmos Launches India’s Second Privately Built Rocket

Mihir Gadhvi 30/05/2024
Agnikul Cosmos Launches India’s Second Privately Built Rocket

India’s burgeoning space startup, Agnikul Cosmos, achieved a significant milestone on Thursday by successfully launching its Agnibaan rocket, marking the country’s second flight of a privately built rocket.

This launch is notable for being powered by the only Indian rocket engine utilizing both gas and liquid fuel. The event signifies a crucial step in India's evolving space landscape, driven by increasing private sector participation.

The journey to this launch was fraught with challenges. Agnibaan’s first flight had faced four cancellations over the past two months due to technical issues. The most recent setback occurred just two days before the successful launch, when the mission was aborted a mere five seconds before lift-off. Despite these hurdles, the successful flight on Thursday stands as a testament to Agnikul’s resilience and technological prowess.

The Agnibaan rocket, a customizable, two-stage launch vehicle, is designed to carry payloads of up to 300 kg (661 lb) into an orbit approximately 700 kilometers (435 miles) above the Earth. On its maiden flight, the rocket flew for two minutes, reaching a maximum altitude, or apogee, of 8,076 meters before safely splashing down into the ocean. Agnikul Cosmos confirmed that "all the mission objectives of this controlled vertical ascent flight were met and performance was nominal."

One of the standout features of the Agnibaan rocket is its semi-cryogenic engine, a first for India. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has yet to successfully fly a rocket equipped with such an engine, making Agnikul’s achievement particularly noteworthy. Semi-cryogenic engines, which use a combination of gas and liquid fuel, are known for their efficiency and performance. This engine was realized through additive manufacturing, a technique that allows for the creation of complex, lightweight components through 3D printing.

ISRO hailed the successful launch on social media platform X, stating, "A major milestone, as the first-ever controlled flight of a semi-cryogenic liquid engine realized through additive manufacturing." The suborbital flight on Thursday aimed to test the new engine and its 3D-printed parts, paving the way for future innovations in rocket technology.

Pawan K Goenka, chairman of the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), celebrated the event, calling it a "historic moment." The Indian Space Association (ISpA) echoed this sentiment, stating that the launch would "bolster global confidence" in India’s private space industry. This confidence is crucial as India seeks to position itself as a key player in the global space market.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a strong advocate for the privatization and commercialization of India’s space sector in recent years. His administration has implemented several policy changes aimed at encouraging private investment and innovation in space technology. The success of companies like Agnikul Cosmos is a direct result of these efforts, demonstrating the potential for private enterprises to contribute significantly to India’s space ambitions.

Agnikul Cosmos, founded in 2017, operates India’s first private launchpad and mission control center, a significant achievement in itself. Until now, all launchpads in India were operated exclusively by ISRO. This shift towards private launch facilities represents a new era of collaboration and competition within the Indian space sector.

The company’s name, Agnikul, is derived from the Hindi and Sanskrit word for fire, symbolizing the transformative power of their technology. Agnikul’s journey began with a vision to create flexible and cost-effective launch solutions, and the successful flight of the Agnibaan rocket brings them closer to realizing this goal.

The launch of Agnibaan follows the successful flight of India’s first privately developed rocket by Skyroot Aerospace in 2022. Skyroot’s achievements set the stage for other private players in the Indian space sector, showcasing the capabilities and potential of homegrown space technology companies.

Agnikul’s success is expected to have far-reaching implications for India’s space industry. It highlights the growing competence of private companies in developing advanced space technologies and executing complex missions. This, in turn, could attract more investment into the sector, fostering innovation and driving economic growth.

Moreover, the use of additive manufacturing in developing the semi-cryogenic engine demonstrates the potential for advanced manufacturing techniques to revolutionize rocket design and production. By leveraging 3D printing, companies can reduce costs, improve performance, and accelerate development timelines, making space exploration more accessible and sustainable.

Looking ahead, Agnikul Cosmos plans to continue refining its technology and expanding its capabilities. The successful test of the Agnibaan rocket is just the beginning. The company aims to offer reliable and affordable launch services to customers worldwide, contributing to the democratization of space access.

The successful launch of Agnikul Cosmos’s Agnibaan rocket marks a significant milestone in India’s space journey. It underscores the potential of private enterprises to drive innovation and progress in the space sector. As India continues to embrace the privatization and commercialization of its space industry, the achievements of companies like Agnikul Cosmos will play a crucial role in shaping the future of space exploration and technology. This landmark event not only boosts confidence in India’s private space capabilities but also sets the stage for a new era of space innovation and collaboration.

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Mihir Gadhvi

Tech Expert

Mihir Gadhvi is the co-founder of illustrake and HAYD. Illustrake is a D2C Enabler and offers Performance Marketing, Retention Marketing, and Content Creation Services. HAYD is a brand New, homegrown fashion line that aims to make clothing easy for us without taxing our planet. Although the concept is quite known now, HAYD wants to accomplish sustainability by reducing its impact on the environment with safe and fair manufacturing.

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