India’s First Private Vehicle Launchpad

Chennai-based space tech startup Agnikul Cosmos recently opened India’s first private launchpad and mission control centre at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. It was inaugurated on November 28 by ISRO chairman S Somanath. The inauguration took place just days after the launch of India’s first privately developed rocket Vikram-S.

About the facility

  • The Agnikul launchpad and the Agnikul mission control centre are four kilometres apart. They are connected with each other via various critical systems to ensure 100 per operationality during the countdown.
  • This facility was designed by the startup Agnikul Cosmos and executed with the support from ISRO and the IN-SPACe.
  • It is first exclusive Launchpad for launching private launch vehicles.
  • It is designed specifically to support liquid stage controlled launches and help ISRO range operations team to monitor flight safety parameters during launches.
  • This facility can share data and other important information with ISRO’s mission control centre whenever necessary.
  • Agnikul’s inaugural launch of the Agnibaan rocket will take place from this Launchpad. This mission is intended to be a technology demonstrator, mirroring Agnikul’s orbital launch but at a reduced scale.

What is Agnibaan rocket?

Agnibaan rocket is a customizable two-stage launch vehicle capable of carrying up to 100 kg payload to orbits some 700 km high (low earth orbits) and enable plug-and-play configuration. This mobile launch system is fully made using 3D printing. The rocket has three stages. The first stage is powered by 7 Agnite engines. The second stage uses an Agnilet engine optimized for vacuum use.

The Agnilet is the world’s first single-piece 3D printed engine to be fully designed and manufactured in India. It uses liquid oxygen and kerosene as oxidizer and fuel. It was successfully tested in 2021, making Agnikul the first company in India to test its engines in ISRO.

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