Agnikul Cosmos, the IIT-Madras incubated space start-up, has successfully launched Agnibaan’s 3D printed sub-orbital rocket, Agnibaan SOrTeD at 7.15 a.m. on Thursday, from its private launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. This comes after four attempts were called off in the last few months.

Indian Space Research Organisation in X said, “Congratulations @AgnikulCosmos on the successful launch of the Agnibaan SoRTed-01 mission from their launch pad. This is a major milestone, as it is the first-ever controlled flight of a semi-cryogenic liquid engine realised through additive manufacturing.”

“A remarkable feat which will make the entire nation proud,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The successful launch of Agnibaan rocket powered by world’s first single-piece 3D printed semi-cryogenic engine is a momentous occasion for India’s space sector and a testament to the remarkable ingenuity of our Yuva Shakti. My best wishes to the @AgnikulCosmos team for their future endeavours,” he said in X.

Agnibaan SOrTeD is a single-stage launch vehicle powered by AgniKul’s patented Agnilet engine, a 3D-printed, single-piece, 6 kilonewtons (kN) semi-cryogenic engine. It is also a two-stage launch vehicle equipped to place payloads of up to 100 kg into a low-Earth orbit at a distance of 700 km.

Speaking to businessline from Sriharikota, Agnikul Cosmos co-founder Srinath Ravichandran said that being sleepless in the last few months has paid off with today’s launch that has met all the mission objectives with performance on track. “We completely designed the launch vehicle in-house and it was expected to be complicated as it is powered by the world’s first single piece 3d-printed engine,” he added.

Satyanarayanan R Chakravarthy, Founding Advisor, Agnikul Cosmos and also the Head of National Centre for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD), IIT Madras, said that the mission involved India’s first Semi-cryo rocket engine, which is also the world’s most integrated single shot 3D-printed piece. “It signals the ability to rapidly assemble rockets that is unparalleled,” he said.

Vishesh Rajaram, Managing Partner of Speciale Invest, one of Agnikul’s earliest investors, said that the launch was possible because of the team’s resilience and determination. “Deep tech and more importantly space tech is not for the weak-hearted and getting it right at the fifth try despite getting drained emotionally speaks volumes about the founders’ and team’s determination,” he told businessline. He also highlighted the coordination and support from ISRO’s team.

Established in 2017 by aerospace engineers Srinath Ravichandran and Moin SPM, along with IIT-Madras faculty member Sathyanarayan R Chakravarthy, Agnikul emerged was the first Indian company to sign an agreement with ISRO in December 2020. The Agnikul team consists of over 200 engineers and is associated with NCCRD at IIT Madras. Additionally, the team is guided by 45 former scientists from ISRO who bring invaluable expertise to the endeavour of democratising access to space.

A statement from the company said that the key purpose of this mission was to serve as a test flight, to demonstrate the in-house and home grown technologies, gather crucial flight data and ensure optimal functioning of systems for Agnikul’s orbital launch vehicle ‘Agnibaan’.

Moin SPM, Co-Founder and COO, Agnikul Cosmos, said that Agnibaan SOrTeD is only the beginning and we are hopeful of contributing to India’s Technological and economic growth.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Entrepreneurship, Skill Development, Electronics & Technology, in a message on X, said, “Agnikul successfully completed its first launch from Agnikul’s own & India’s only private launchpad within SDSC-SHAR. Besides being the worlds first flight with a single piece 3D printed rocket engine, this controlled flight is also India’s first flight with a semi cryogenic engine. The vehicle was completely designed in-house in India and assembled at Agnikul’s facilities within IIT madras.”

“What Agnikul has achieved today, is nothing short of a historical milestone, since India launched its maiden rocket in 1963 from Thumba launch station. Agnibaan SOrTeD has got many firsts in its strides with being India’s first launch from a private launchpad, the first semi-cryogenic engine-powered rocket launch and the world’s first single-piece 3D printed engine designed and built indigenously,” said AK Bhatt, Director General, Indian Space Association.

This is a huge boost and a proud moment for India’s thriving private space industry, and it is just a glimpse into what the future holds for us. Our hearty congratulations to the entire team behind this and best wishes for their future efforts. This significant launch, coupled with the recently introduced guidelines for the implementation of the Indian Space Policy 2023 by IN-SPACe and the new FDI regulations, will undoubtedly bolster global confidence in India’s private space industry and its growing capabilities, he said.

“We at Artha Venture Fund and Artha Select Fund are incredibly proud to be investors in this ground-breaking venture. We look forward to Agnikul charting a completely new path in the space ecosystem, emerging from the explosive Indian space tech sector. This is a monumental achievement and a testament to the relentless spirit and innovation of the Agnikul team,” Anirudh A Damani- Managing Partner, Artha India ventures, a prime investor in Agnikul.

Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group, and an investor in Agnikul in X said, “Another piece of India-related good news. What a morning this is turning out to be. World’s first flight with a single-piece, 3D printed engine, which will radically lower cost & assembly time.

And this was the fifth attempt. Which makes it even more inspiring when you add persistence & a never-give-in spirit to the ‘fuel’ mix! For me, a special moment, since I am a believer and an investor in Agnikul Cosmos.”

Agnikul started its journey incubated at IIT-Madras and V. Kamakoti, Director of the institute, said that this was the first time in the world that a “deep core technology” was demonstrated and is set to be inspiration for students to boldly take the entrepreneurship route and become employers.