Agnikul inaugurates India’s first private space?

Chennai-based startup Agnikul Cosmos, a space tech startup, has opened India’s first privately owned launchpad and mission control center at Satish Dhawan Spa Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota. S Somanath (chairman of ISRO) inaugurated the facility in Sriharikota on November 28.

The Agnikul mission control center and the launchpad for the Agnikul rocket are situated four kilometres apart. Agnikul says the launchpad was created to allow liquid stage-controlled launches to be accommodated and supported. The launchpad is being used by Chennai-based startup Agnibaan for the launch of its rocket.

Agnibaan can launch payloads as large as 100 kilograms into a low-earth orbit at 700 kms from Earth’s surface. It is a two stage rocket. The company has 3D-printed Agnilet engine engines that will power the Agnibaan rocket. It is a “semicryogenic” engine which uses a mix of liquid kerosene as well as supercold oxygen to propel itself. Agnikul tested the Agnilet engines at ISRO’s facilities this year.

In an interaction with Srinath Ravichandran (H1_ Agnikul CEO and cofounder) stated that the company plans to launch its Agnibaan rocket this year. Ravichandran said that 3D printing an engine is a success and it makes it possible to manufacture simpler parts for the rest.

However, validation of the engines is essential for rocket launches. It is also necessary to validate and test the other systems of the rocket, such as its avionics package and guidance and navigation system. The rocket Agnibaan will launch its first mission with payloads designed to test its system.

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