Indian space-tech startup, AgniKul Cosmos, has set up India’s first privately operated space vehicle launchpad at Sriharikota.
Mr. S. Somnath, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Secretary, Department of Space, inaugurated the facility on 25th November 2022.
AgniKul’s Launchpad Built with Support from ISRO and IN-SPACe
AgniKul Cosmos prepared the design of the aforementioned launchpad, which was executed with assistance from the ISRO and Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Center (IN-SPACe).
AgniKul’s facility comprises two sections, which are the AgniKul Launch Pad (ALP) and the AgniKul Mission Control Center (AMCC). These sections are situated about 4 Km apart. To ensure smooth operations during launches critical systems connecting ALP and AMCC have been made redundant. This means that if one set of systems fails, a backup or a compensatory system for the same function would take care of operations during the launch.
Launchpad to Support Liquid-stage Launches, Share Critical Info with ISRO
AgniKul’s launchpad has been designed specifically keeping in mind rockets that use liquid propellants. AgniKul plans to launch its satellite launch vehicle, Agnibaan, which uses liquid fuel from this launchpad. This facility will work in cooperation with ISRO, and the latter’s Range Operations unit will oversee the core flight safety parameters for launches from the ALP.
Additionally, the facility is capable of sharing critical data and information with ISRO’s Mission Control Centre if necessary.
AgniKul’s First Launch Planned from AgniKul Launch Pad (ALP)
Agnibaan, which uses liquid fuel (Liquid Oxygen/Kerosene), is a two-stage customisable launch vehicle developed by Agnikul Cosmos. Agnibaan will be the first launch from ALP. Agnibaan is capable of carrying 100 Kg of weight, and it can cruise to an altitude of 700 Km from the earth’s surface, thus capable of putting satellites in the lower Earth orbit.
Agniban’s engine is 3D printed and has been named ‘Agnilet’ by the startup. This engine is the first one-piece 3D-printed engine to be designed and built in India.
AgniKul’s Launchpad a Leap for Private Sector in the Indian Space Programme
Mr. Moin SPM, co-founder of AgniKul Cosmos credited the new reforms introduced by the Department of Space for the company’s latest achievement. It was through the draft Indian Space Policy 2022 that Indian private players were encouraged to venture into the Indian space sector.
In 2021, the company signed an agreement with Department of Space to access ISRO’s facilities and technical assistance for its upcoming Agnibaan project. Mr. Srinath Ravichandran, AgniKul’s CEO said, “The ability to launch from our own launchpad while still working with ISRO’s launch operations teams is a privilege that we have been granted by ISRO & IN-SPACe”.
India has three major rocket launching sites. These are located at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thumba, and Dr. Abdul Kalam Island, Bhadrak, Odisha.
Speaking at the inauguration of AgniKul’s launchpad, Mr. Somnath, Chairman, ISRO said, “The first exclusive launch pad for a private launch vehicle has come up at the Satish Dhawan Space Center (SDSC). Now India can travel to space from one more space platform. Thanks to AgniKul”.
Recently, another space-tech startup, Skyroot Aerospace conducted India’s first private rocket launch.
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.