Agnikul Cosmos Testfires India’s First 3D Printed Rocket Engine
The Indian space programme has achieved great heights with the help of the State-owned Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). From the launch and deployment of distributed small satellite systems to carrying the scientific and exploratory missions to outer space, the list of ISRO’s contributions to the Indian space sector is huge. Today, it is actively encouraging the involvement of private industries in the space sector to boost the space economy within the country.
A Chennai rocket start-up – Agnikul Cosmos – that previously signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the Department of Space (DoS) to get access to ISRO’s facilities to build its rocket, very recently became successful in testing a fully 3D-printed rocket engine. With this testing, the Chennai space start-up has become the world’s first company to have achieved this success.
Agnikul Cosmos fired its higher stage, semi-cryogenic rocket engine, called Agnilet. While describing the rocket engine, Srinath Ravichandran, CEO, Agnikul Cosmos, said, “Agnilet is just one piece of hardware from start to finish and has zero assembled parts.” Its three-in-one solution allows it to put all the three modules, i.e. injectors, cooling channels, and igniter in a single hardware piece.
Moreover, the turnaround time for the entire setup is less than four days. The rocket engine is capable of carrying up to 100 kilos to low earth orbit – around 700 kilometres above the earth’s surface. This is just a fraction of what the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is capable of.
Like Agnikul Cosmos, several other Indian start-ups are progressing in the space sector. Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace, founded by former ISRO scientists, Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka, is another on the list.
Skyroot Aerospace revealed its fully 3D printer cryogenic rocket engine, dubbed Dhawan-I, which will be used to power the Vikram-II rocket that Skyroot is building from scratch, in September last year. Similar to Agnikul Cosmos, the Hyderabad-based start-up also signed an NDA with the DoS on February 2. The aim was to be able to use ISRO’s test and launch facilities to test their Vikram-I rocket, and eventually Dhawan-I as well.
The current value of the global space industry is $350 billion and there is a high possibility that this value could triple in view of the ongoing advancements. As per Morgan Stanley, the global space industry, with the help of new space engine technology, like 3D printed rocket engines, could generate $1.1 trillion or more by 2040.