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Agnikul: Revolutionizing Small Satellite Launches

  • Agnikul, India's first private launchpad and mission control center.
  • The increasing demand for small satellite launches has led space firms like Agnikul to seek innovative solutions.
  • Agnikul's ambitious plans to develop multiple versions of the Agnibaan rocket.

What is India's first private launchpad and mission control center? It Agnikul, a space tech startup that develops small-lift launch vehicles, was founded by Srinath Ravichandran, Moin SPM, Satyanaryan Chakravarthy, and Janardhana Raju.

It has raised $26.7 million in fresh investment as it looks to begin commercial launches using its customizable satellite rocket. Smaller satellites have typically been taken to space alongside larger launchers. The growing demand has prompted space firms to seek specific solutions.

Established companies like SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, have conducted ride-sharing missions for small satellite launches. Several American space companies, such as Astra, Virgin Orbit, and Rocket Lab, have introduced small satellite launch vehicles. 

Agnikul, a competitor in the space industry, is utilizing its Agnibaan small satellite rocket to achieve faster production and personalized launches. They are employing additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, a strategy similar to that of Relativity Space, a US-based company.

Agnikul, based in Chennai, recently showcased Agnilet, a 3D-printed engine that underwent successful test-firing in early 2021, providing a glimpse into their plans.

Agnikul predicts that the market for satellite launches weighing less than 300 kg will need about 50 tons annually. Consequently, it plans to develop multiple versions of the Agnibaan rocket and progressively increase the frequency of launches from one or two per year to one or two per month.

Agnikul is on its way to launch many more small-lift launch vehicles to emerge as a significant space tech startup. 

Edited by Shruti Thapa