Agnikul Cosmos, which is India’s first private rocket engine factory and is currently equipped to construct two rocket engines from scratch each week, was opened on Wednesday.
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Agnikul Cosmos, a homegrown space company, opened the nation’s first private factory devoted to producing rocket engines in Chennai on Wednesday. S Somanath, the chairman of ISRO, and N Chandrasekaran, the chairman of Tata Sons, performed the ceremony. The facility will construct 3D printed rocket engines using additive manufacturing technology, according to the company, and be used to make engines for its own in-house rockets.
Agnikul Cosmos’ chief executive, Srinath Ravichandran, stated that the factory is currently equipped to construct two rocket engines from scratch each week. This will enable the plant to assemble the eight engines needed to launch Agnibaan, its two-stage launch vehicle, which is anticipated to happen by the end of the year.
“Since companies and organisations looking to launch satellites no longer have access to Russian facilities, and launching aboard heavy rockets could be expensive, small orbital launch vehicles can help India win a large chunk of satellite launch orders in the near future,” Ravichandran said. When the engines are ready, the company will wait an extra week before launching the rocket, he continued.
The business said that the Agnibaan rockets are already being prepared for the launch of small satellites by its partners, and the facility will meet this demand. The Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) upcoming small, light commercial rocket, the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, is heavier than Agnibaan, an ultra-light launch vehicle (SSLV). Agnibaan will be able to transport payloads of up to 100 kg to low Earth orbits (LEOs) of up to 700 km above Earth, while the SSLV can only lift payloads of about 300 kg.
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Agnikul Cosmos is not the only company producing such small rockets for use in commercial space missions, to be sure. Skyroot Aerospace, another Indian space startup, will soon launch its own indigenous rocket, Vikram, for a technology demonstration (or test) later this year.
According to Chaitanya Girl, a consultant with the Ministry of External Affairs-affiliated Research and Information System for Developing Countries, “gaining the ability to build small, easy to build and affordable rockets on a conveyor belt setup will help India build capacity to attract a larger chunk of the global satellite launches market.”
The development of ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLVs), which are being developed by an industry consortium made up of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Larsen & Toubro, as well as satellite internet providers, earth observation and space sensing technology startups looking to deploy small satellite constellations in low Earth orbits, could all help India provide a variety of opportunities for academic institutions, research organizations, and other organizations.
Pawan Goenka, chairman of the nodal government agency for space, the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Center (IN-SPACe), said that private Indian space startups may have more room for growth in the commercial market after they demonstrate their technologies and carry out initial launches. He was speaking at the opening of the Indian Space Association’s (ISpA) headquarters in New Delhi.