How Agnikul Cosmos Finally Launched Agnibaan SOrTeD After Four Failed Attempts

Agnibaan SOrTeD is a single-stage launch vehicle created by the Indian space start-up Agnikul Cosmos.
How Agnikul Cosmos Finally Launched Agnibaan SOrTeD After Four Failed Attempts
Image- X (Formerly Twitter)

Space start-up Agnikul Cosmos finally launched the Agnibaan SOrTeD rocket today from Sriharikota. The success comes after four failed attempts. 

The test flight on Thursday was conducted without live-streaming and with fewer dignitaries present at the Sriharikota launch pad within ISRO's Satish Dhawan Space Centre. 

On Tuesday, Agnikul Cosmos aborted the maiden launch of its rocket for the fourth time, just seconds before liftoff, according to Reuters. India's second privately built rocket, the first to use both gas and liquid fuel, faced four launch attempts that were aborted due to various issues. One mission was canceled just ninety seconds before takeoff. 

On Tuesday, the launch was initially scheduled for around 5:45 a.m., but was delayed due to a technical glitch in the countdown. The new liftoff time was set for 9:25 a.m., but five seconds before liftoff, the launch was paused temporarily to check the igniter's performance, and it was eventually canceled altogether. 

Earlier, on April 7, the start-up canceled the launch for the third time due to 'unavoidable circumstances.' Although the reason was not specified, it was speculated that weather disturbances were to blame. 

Now that the Agnibaan rocket has been launched successfully, it is being said that history has been made. With May 30 being marked as the day when history has been created, congratulatory notes have poured in for the start-up. 

What is Agnibaan SOrTeD? 

Agnibaan SOrTeD is a single-stage launch vehicle created by the Indian space start-up Agnikul Cosmos. This vehicle is a suborbital test flight version of the Agnibaan launch vehicle, capable of carrying payloads up to 300 kg to low Earth orbits approximately 700 km high. 

It is powered by Agnikul's patented Agnilet semi-cryogenic engine, recognised as the world's first single-piece 3D-printed semi-cryogenic rocket engine. This type of engine utilises a combination of liquid and gaseous propellants, operating at temperatures higher than cryogenic engines but lower than traditional liquid rocket engines. 

Additionally, Agnibaan SOrTeD is highly customisable and can be configured using a plug-and-play system. The mission aims to function as a test flight to showcase Agnikul's in-house and domestically developed technologies. It will gather essential flight data and verify the optimal performance of systems for Agnikul's orbital launch vehicle, the Agnibaan, the company stated. 

The Sky Is No Longer The Limit For Start-Ups 

After the successful launch, Professor V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, said that the sky is no longer the limit for Indian start-ups. Agnikul was started in 2017 by Srinath Ravichandran, Moin SPM, and Satya Chakravarth. It was incubated at IIT Madras in 2018. In December 2020, it became the first company in the country to sign an agreement with ISRO. 

The company manages a mission control center and the nation's first privately owned launchpad. ISRO is in charge of other launchpads. The start-up announced in October 2023 that it had secured an extra $26.7 million in investment. 

Increased focus on space start-ups 

India has been focusing extensively on space start-ups. In December 2023, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said that Indian space start-ups had received over ₹1,000 crores of private investment since the month of April, as per the Hindustan Times. Similarly, he added that the number of space start-ups in the country increased from 190 in 2014 to 1,080 in 2023. 

In a major boost, this year the Finance Ministry notified an amendment to the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy. Under the amended FDI policy, satellites—manufacturing and operation, satellite data products, ground segment, and user segment—will get up to 74 per cent FDI under the automatic route. Additionally, the manufacturing of components and systems/sub-systems for satellites, ground segments, and user segments will get up to 100 per cent FDI under the automatic route. 

Speaking about the liberalised limits on FDI, in an exclusive interview with Outlook Business, Srinath Ravichandran, the co-founder and chief executive of Agnikul Cosmos, said, “I think we are at a place where all the startups that are out there have already gotten the easily available money in the country. But for the next rounds of funding, where everyone is going to be looking at larger checks, I think FDI will make a difference.” 

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Business & Money