Space Startup Agnikul Cosmos Achieves Milestone with AI-Enhanced 3D-Printed Rocket Engine Launch

By Ritwik Ghosh,Kolkata India

Space Startup Agnikul Cosmos Achieves Milestone with AI-Enhanced 3D-Printed Rocket Engine Launch

Indian space startup Agnikul Cosmos has successfully launched its first sub-orbital test vehicle, powered by the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed rocket engine. This remarkable achievement came after four previous launch attempts were called off. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) congratulated Agnikul, stating it is “a major milestone, as the first-ever controlled flight of a semi-cryogenic liquid engine realized through additive manufacturing.”

Agnikul Cosmos carried out the sub-orbital test flight of its AI-enhanced, home-built 3D-printed semi-cryogenic rocket, Agnibaan, from its own launch pad at Sriharikota. The launch took place at 7:15 am on Thursday, marking several significant firsts. It is the second launch by a private startup in India and the first to use a private launchpad at the country’s only operational spaceport in Sriharikota.

Dr. Pawan Goenka, chairman of IN-SPACe, responsible for coordinating with the private space sector, celebrated the launch on X, stating, “Elated at the successful launch of Agnibaan SOrTeD by @AgnikulCosmos! A historic moment for India’s space sector. Powered by the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed semi-cryogenic engine, this achievement showcases the brilliance of our young innovators.”

Typically, rocket engine parts are manufactured separately and then assembled. However, the 3D-printed manufacturing process, enhanced by AI, is expected to lower launch costs and reduce vehicle assembly time. Agnikul Cosmos aims to offer affordable launch services for small satellites, demonstrating India’s first semi-cryogenic engine with this mission.

Professor Satyanarayanan R Chakravarthy, founding advisor of Agnikul Cosmos and head of the National Centre for Combustion Research and Development at IIT Madras, proudly stated, “We are proud to present India’s first semi-cryo rocket engine, which is also the world’s most integrated single-shot 3D printed piece. It signals an unparalleled ability to rapidly assemble rockets.”

The launch vehicle, developed by the IIT Madras-incubated startup, showcased India’s first semi-cryogenic engine, named Agnilet, which uses sub-cooled oxygen as fuel. Unlike cryogenic engines that use gases liquefied at extremely low temperatures, such as those in the upper stages of India’s heaviest launch vehicle, LVM3, Agnilet marks a significant innovation in rocket engine technology.

Designed to launch from its mobile launchpad, Dhanush, the vehicle can fly from any location. While this mission was sub-orbital, the vehicle is capable of carrying payloads ranging from 30 kg to 300 kg. The mission reached a height of about 8 kilometers before splashing into the sea.

Agnikul Cosmos plans to conduct its first orbital launch by the end of the financial year, aiming to carry satellites to orbit. Regular launches are expected to commence next year. Another private launch provider, Skyroot, which achieved its first sub-orbital launch in 2022, is also expected to undertake its first orbital launch this year.

“This success is the culmination of thousands of hours of reviews and hard work by our team. We are blessed to have had the opportunity and the full support of IN-SPACe and ISRO to design and build original space-worthy hardware in India,” said Srinath Ravichandran, co-founder and CEO of Agnikul Cosmos.

By leveraging AI technology and advanced 3D-printing techniques, Agnikul Cosmos is paving the way for more efficient and cost-effective space missions, signaling a new era for India’s space sector.


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