Angikul Cosmos successfully flight-tests sub-orbital launch vehicle

Engine parts of rocket have been manufactured separately & assembled later, using 3D-printed manufacturing process, which will lower launch cost and cut down the vehicle’s assembly time

Agnikul Cosmos

Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh): Agnikul Cosmos, an Indian space startup, successfully carried out the launch of its first sub-orbital test vehicle, Agnibaan SOrTeD, from Sriharikota spaceport on Thursday after deferring it four times in the past. The launch vehicle is powered by the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed rocket engine.

According to a press communique issued by Agnikul Cosmos, the Sub-Orbital Technology Demonstrator (Agnibaan SOrTeD) vehicle lifted off at 7.15 am from the only operational spaceport in India. It is the second launch by a private startup in India. It is also the first to use a private launchpad that the company has set up.

Buoyed over success of the launch, Pawan Goenka, chairman of IN-SPACe tasked to coordinate with the private space sector, said on Xm, “Elated at the successful launch of Agnibaan SOrTeD by @AgnikulCosmos! A historic moment for India’s space sector. Powered by world’s first single piece 3D printed semi-cryogenic engine, this achievement showcases brilliance of our young innovators.”

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) also congratulated Agnikul for the successful launch of the space vehicles. In a post on X, ISRO said, “It is a major milestone, as the first-ever controlled flight of a semi-cryogenic liquid engine realized through additive manufacturing. Congratulations @AgnikulCosmos for the successful launch of the Agnibaan SoRTed-01 mission from their launch pad.”

Agnikul engineers said that engine parts of the rocket have been manufactured separately and assembled later, using 3D-printed manufacturing process is likely to lower the launch cost and cut down the vehicle assembly time. “We are working on a mission to offer affordable launch services or small satellites to private organisations,” said an engineer, associated with the project.

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“We are proud to present India’s first semi-cryo rocket engine, which is also the world’s most integrated single shot 3D printed piece. It signals the ability to rapidly assemble rockets that is unparalleled,” said Satyanarayanan R Chakravarthy, founding advisor Agnikul Cosmos and head of National Centre for Combustion Research and Development, IIT Madras.

The IIT Madras-incubated startup Agnikul Cosmos also demonstrated India’s first semi-cryogenic engine in its launch of the vehicle. The engine, named Agnilet, uses sub-cooled oxygen as fuel. Cryogenic engines, such as the one used in the upper stages of India’s heaviest launch vehicle, LVM3, use gases liquefied at extremely low temperatures as fuel.

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The launch vehicle is capable of taking payloads up to 300kg to the space. It has been designed as a mobile launchpad, called Dhanush, and operated from any location. The mission was successful as it followed the stipulated trajectory, climaxing at the about 8 kilometres and then splashing into the sea.

Company officials said they were hoping to conduct the first orbital launch in the next few months, after which they will be able to carry satellites to an orbit around the Earth by the end of the financial year. “Hopefully, Angikul Cosmos will be able to offer regular launch in the next calendar year,” said an official.

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The other private launch provider Skyroot, which achieved its first sub-orbital launch in 2022, is also likely to undertake its first orbital launch this year.

Angikul Cosmos CEO and co-founder Srinath Ravichandran said, “This is the culmination of 1000s of hours of reviews and hard work by the team. We are blessed to have had the opportunity and the full support of IN-SPACe and ISRO to design and build original space worthy hardware in India.”

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