Chennai-based space start-up Agnikul Cosmos has launched the world's first rocket with a single piece 3D printed engine from Sriharikota today (on May 30). The IIT-Madras-incubated start up achieved success entirely through indigenous design and development.

The 'Agnibaan - SOrTeD' Sub-Orbital Technology Demonstrator also has the unique distinction of having been launched from India's first private launch pad called ‘Dhanush’ established by Agnikul. It is also India's first semi-cryogenic engine-powered rocket launch.

Terming the feat ‘remarkable’ in a post on social media platform X, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the successful launch is a "momentous occasion for India’s space sector and a testament to the remarkable ingenuity of our Yuva Shakti."

The key purpose of this mission, which is also Agnikul’s first flight, is to serve as a test flight, to demonstrate the in-house and homegrown technologies, gather crucial flight data and ensure optimal functioning of systems for Agnikul's orbital launch vehicle, the ‘Agnibaan’.

Congratulating Agnikul on the launch, Dr. S Somanath, chairman, ISRO, says, “The Department of Space and ISRO congratulates Agnikul Cosmos on the successful launch of 'Agnibaan - SOrTeD'. The success involving many firsts including 3D printed semi-cryogenic engine, flight control systems etc. demonstrate the prowess of indigenous design and innovation. It motivates ISRO to support the Space start-ups and Non-governmental entities for innovation and Atmanirbharta to create a vibrant space ecosystem in the country.”

The company says that its 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 2025 and is working with customers on flights starting regularly from calendar year 2025.

“The vision of Agnikul is to bring space within everyone’s reach, aiming to enable launches from anywhere, anytime, affordably. Agnikul is committed to developing launch vehicles that are both affordable and customizable according to customer needs," the company states.

The Agnikul team consists of over 200 engineers and is associated with NCCRD at IIT-Madras. Additionally, the team is guided by 45 former scientists from ISRO who bring invaluable expertise to the endeavour of democratising access to space.

The single-stage rocket is called “Agnibaan - Sub-Orbital Technology Demonstrator (SOrTeD)”.

Engine: It is powered by the Agnilet engine, which is the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed rocket engine.

Launch Location: The rocket lifted off from India’s first private launchpad, Dhanush, at Sriharikota.

Significance: This launch marks India’s first semi-cryogenic engine-powered rocket launch.

Mission Details: Despite previous launch postponements, the mission successfully gathered crucial flight data and validated indigenous technologies for future orbital launches.

Future Plans: Agnikul Cosmos plans to conduct regular customer flights starting from 2025.

This achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Agnikul team, which consists of more than 200 engineers guided by 45 former ISRO scientists. The rocket’s vertical lift-off and precisely orchestrated flight manoeuvres demonstrate the prowess of indigenous design and innovation. Kudos to Agnikul Cosmos for pushing the boundaries of space technology.

Our Bureau