In a groundbreaking move, Agnikul Cosmos, an aerospace startup based in Chennai, is gearing up to conduct a test flight of the world's first single-piece 3D-printed engine for their launch vehicle, Agnibaan. The test, scheduled by the end of 2023, serves as a technological demonstrator for their planned orbital launch in 2024.
Agnikul's rocket, Agnibaan SOrTeD, is a highly customizable, single-stage launch vehicle capable of carrying up to a 300 kg payload to orbits around 700 km above the ground. The startup, incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras campus, aims to become India’s second private company to develop a small satellite launch vehicle, following Skyroot Aerospace's Vikram S launch in November 2022.
Agnikul's proprietary Agnilet engine, the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed engine, was successfully test-fired in early 2021. The company's innovative approach includes a plug-and-play configuration for adapting to various satellite sizes and the use of liquid propellants, making their rockets reusable and safer compared to solid propellants.
The integration of the launch vehicle with the company’s private launchpad was completed on August 15 at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. Agnikul's customer base primarily focuses on entities building small satellites for low Earth orbit, with payloads consisting mainly of communication and imaging satellites.
This milestone underscores India's progress in aerospace technology and the potential for 3D printing to revolutionize rocket engine manufacturing. Agnikul's successful test flight would position them as pioneers in the private space industry in India.