Chennai-based space tech startup Agnikul Cosmos has launched India’s first private launchpad and mission control centre at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota. The facility was inaugurated by ISRO chairman S Somanath on November 28.
The facility has two parts—the Agnikul launchpad and the Agnikul mission control centre—which are four kilometres apart. According to Agnikul, the launchpad was designed to accommodate and support liquid stage-controlled launches. The Chennai-based startup plans to launch its Agnibaan rocket from this launchpad.
Agnibaan is a two-stage launch vehicle that is capable of taking payloads of up to 100 kilograms to a low-earth orbit around 700 kilometres from the surface of the Earth. The Agnibaan rocket will be powered by the company’s 3D-printed Agnilet engines. The Agnilet rocket is a “semi-cryogenic” engine that uses a mixture of liquid kerosene and supercold liquid oxygen to propel itself. Agnikul test-fired the Agnilet engine at ISRO’s facilities earlier this year.
In an interaction with indianexpress.com, Agnikul cofounder and CEO Srinath Ravichandran said that the company is targeting to launch its Agnibaan rocket by the end of this year. “The engine is very complex and it functions at very high temperatures. So if we can 3D print an engine successfully, that makes us very confident about manufacturing simpler, static parts for the rest of the launch vehicle,” said Ravichandran at the time.
But for an actual rocket launch, it is not just enough to validate the engines. The rocket’s other systems, including avionics packages and guidance and navigation systems, also need to be tested and validated. During its debut launch, the Agnibaan rocket will be carrying payloads that are designed to test its systems.