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Agnikul Cosmos Launches World’s First Rocket with Single-Piece 3D Printed Engine

Agnikul cosmos logo

Indian space startup, Agnikul Cosmos, successfully launched Agnibaan – SorTeD (Sub-Orbital Technology Demonstrator) on 30th May 2024 at 7:15 am from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. ‘Agnilet’, the engine that powered Agnibaan, is the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed rocket engine. The launch was carried out from India’s first privately developed launchpad, “Dhanush”, also developed by Agnikul Cosmos.

Success in 5th Launch Attempt, Agnibaan Soars to 8 Km

Agnikul Cosmos' Agnibaan LEO Rocket
Agnibaan Rocket

The successful launch of Agnibaan marks its fifth launch attempt. Agnibaan’s launch had been called off four times previously since 22nd March 2024 due to technical issues, with the most recent postponement on 28th May 2024. Agnibaan soared to a height of 8 Km during the successful sub-orbital test flight, which was targeted “…to demonstrate the in-house and home grown technologies, gather crucial flight data and ensure optimal functioning of systems”, as per a PIB release dated 30th May 2024.

Speaking about Agnibaan’s launch, Ms. Saraniya P, Vehicle Director, Agnikul Cosmos, said, “Every time challenges used to look difficult, I used to remind myself of believing in myself. This, along with the support of the team is what took me through building this complex vehicle”.

Support from Indian Department of Space, Development & Testing Assisted by ISRO

The Indian Department of Space had signed a framework Memorandum of Understanding MoU with Agnikul Cosmos in September 2021. This gave Agnikul Cosmos access to ISRO’s facilities and capabilities for development and testing of various systems used in launch vehicles. This MoU also enabled Agnikul Cosmos for testing, qualification of their single piece 3D printed semi-cryogenic engine and systems that lead to this successful launch.

About the space startup’s success, Mr. Srinath Ravichandran, Co-Founder and CEO, Agnikul Cosmos, said, “This [Agnibaan launch] 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.

Development of Agnilet Key to the Indian Space Sector

Indigenously designed and developed Agnilet engine marks an important milestone for the Indian Space sector. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) described Agnibaan’s launch in a tweet dated 30th May 2024 as: “A major milestone, as the first-ever controlled flight of a semi-cryogenic liquid engine realized through additive manufacturing”.

In July 2022, Agnikul Cosmos inaugurated India’s first private 3D-printed rocket engine factory in Chennai. Subsequently on 8th November 2022, Agnikul Cosmos successfully test fired Agnilet at Vertical Test Facility of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center’s (VSSC) Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS), in Thiruvananthapuram.

Agnilet First Rocket Engine in India to Use Liquid Fuel in Core, First Launch Using Semi-Cryogenic Fuel

Apart from Agnilet being the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed rocket engine, it is India’s first engine which uses liquid fuel in its core. This is in contrast to ISRO’s rockets which are fueled by solid fuel, except for strap-on rockets which use liquid fuel.

Further, Agnibaan’s launch marks India’s first successful launch powered by a semi-cryogenic engine. Agnibaan used Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) at ambient temperature along with Liquid Oxygen at cryogenic temperature as fuel.

Full Scale Launch of Agnibaan Planned for Later, Agnikul’s First Orbital Mission Expected During FY-25

It must be noted that Agnikul Cosmos has executed the successful test flight for only the top part of the rocket, which was a single-engine system. Agnibaan actually has been designed as a two-stage rocket which can be customised to carry payloads weighing from 30 Kg to 300 Kg up to a height of 700 Km. The test launch of Agnibaan with both its stages has been planned for later, and Agnikul Cosmos expects its first orbital mission to be executed successfully by the end of FY-25.

Commenting on the Agnibaan’s successful launch, Dr. S. Somanath, Chairman, ISRO, said, “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 startups and Non-governmental entities for innovation and Atmanirbharata to create a vibrant space ecosystem in the country”.

About Agnikul Cosmos Private Ltd.: Agnikul Cosmos is a Chennai-headquartered space-tech startup operating out of National Center for Combustion R&D of IIT Madras. The company was incorporated in 2017, and in 2021 it developed its single-piece 3D printed engine, Agnilet.