Agnikul Cosmos, a space-tech start-up based in Chennai, has set up India's first-ever launchpad at a facility in Sriharikota. The launchpad, which will be operated by a private player, was designed by Agnikul and later executed with the help of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Center (IN-SPACe).
The facility was inaugurated on Monday by S Somnath, the chairman of ISRO and the secretary of the Department of Space. It comprises two sections – the Agnikul launchpad (ALP) and the Agnikul Mission Control Center (AMCC). The two sections are 4 km apart, and all the critical systems and mechanisms that connect them are redundant to ensure 100 per cent functioning during the countdown.
Know About Agnikul Launchpad
Agnikul is an IIT Madras-incubated space-tech startup that was founded in 2017 by alumni Srinath Ravichandran, Moin SPM and Professor SR Chakravarthy. In 2020, the startup became the first company in the country to sign an agreement with ISRO. As per the agreement that was signed under the IN-SPACe initiative, Agnikul could access ISRO's expertise and facilities to build Agnibaan and its launch pads.
The launchpad was built by Agnikul after consulting ISRO and considering the necessity to support liquid stage-controlled launches. The ALP also facilitates ISRO's range operations unit to oversee and monitor vital flight safety parameters during launches. Moreover, it can also transmit important information to ISRO's Mission Control Center.
"The first exclusive launch pad for a private launch vehicle has come up at the Satish Dhawan Space Center (SDSC). Now India can travel to space from one more space platform. Thanks to Agnikul", Somanath said while speaking with The Hindu.
Moin SPM, co-founder, Agnikul, said, "The new reforms that have been brought in by the Department of Space truly accommodate everyone's dream of going to space."
About First Launch
In a controlled and guided mission, Agnikul's first launch will be conducted from ALP using its patented engine Agnilet and the highly customisable launch vehicle Agnibaan. The mission will aim at being a technology demonstrator that will mirror Agnikul's orbital launch, however, at a reduced scale, reports India Today.
Agnibaan, a two-stage launch vehicle, is Agnikul's highly customisable asset. It can carry up to 100 kg payload to orbits approximately 700 km high while also allowing plug-and-play configuration.
The world's first single-piece 3-D printed engine – Agnilet – is fully designed and manufactured in India. It even cleared its test fire that was conducted at ISRO in 2021, making Agnikul the first company to do so. Agnibaan and Agnilet will be used in Agnikul's first launch.
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