AgniKul and Other Space-Tech Startups Fueling India’s Space Ambitions

ISRO Invites Tech Proposals For Human Space Program

Design by ISRO Invites Tech Proposals For Human Space Program

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Indian space-tech startup AgniKul Cosmos recently announced the successful testing of its fully-3D printed, 2nd stage semi-cryo engine – Agnilet – at the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station at Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC). 

Agnilet is the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed rocket engine designed and manufactured in India, which it initially test-fired at IIT Madras in 2021. But, the recent testing at ISRO has validated the design and manufacturing methodology followed by AgniKul. 

The 3D-printed rocket engine technology was recently awarded a patent by the Government of India. AgniKul became the first Indian company to sign an agreement with ISRO under the IN-SPACe initiative. At present, it has raised a total of $15 million from Mayfield India, pi Ventures, Speciale Invest, and Angel Investors like Anand Mahindra and Naval Ravikant. 

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Acknowledging the support provided by IN-SPACe, ISRO and the Indian government, 

AgniKul chief Srinath Ravichandran said this is a huge step in understanding how to design, develop and fire rocket engines at a professional level. 

Co-founded by Srinath Ravichandran and Moin SPM, AgniKul was formed in 2017 in Chennai. In 2019, the organisation expanded its presence to Kerala, being a part of the Kerala Startup Mission community. It was built with a mission of making space travel affordable for everyone in India with a focus on building orbital class rockets for micro and nano satellites.  

Other Indian space tech startups 

Space-tech startups in India have been at an all time high. Recently, Skyroot Aerospace, a space startup based in Hyderabad, announced the launch of ‘Vikram-S’, India’s first rocket to space by a private sector company. The rocket launch mission named ‘Prarambh’ was made possible with support from ISRO and IN-SPACe, founder Pawan Chandana acknowledged. 

Bellatrix Aerospace recently announced that it will be investing $76 million to set up R&D and manufacturing in Bangalore for its propulsion technology systems. The list just goes on. Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted in the 90th episode of ‘Mann Ki Baat’ that there are currently 100 space startups in India developing solutions to the issues faced by the space tech industry. 

Read: It’s high time SpaceX entered India  

Powered by IN-SPACe

Launched in 2020, IN-SPACe is aimed towards opening up the space sector to private players. The move, led by ISRO and Department of Space, will enable sharing of facilities by NewSpace India Limited and Non-government Private Entities, and help in the development of new technologies and capabilities.   

In the proposed reforms, the government offered to change the approach in India’s space missions from ‘supply-based model’ to a ‘demand-based model’ to make efficient use of the space assets available. Further, the reforms also state that not DOS, but NSIL, the commercial arm of ISRO, will be taking ownership of launching vehicles, commercialising launches, satellites, and services. 

Ayush Jain
Ayush is interested in knowing how technology shapes and defines our culture, and our understanding of the world. He believes in exploring reality at the intersections of technology and art, science, and politics.

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