Indian SpaceTech Agnikul Tests World’s 1st 3D-Printed Rocket Engine
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The world’s first single-piece 3D-printed rocket engine, Agnilet, has been successfully test-fired, announced Chennai-based spacetech startup Agnikul Cosmos on Tuesday.
The Agnilet trial was conducted at Vertical Test Facility, Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS), at Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram. VSSC is a major space research centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which focuses on rocket and space vehicles for India’s satellite programme.
Supported by IN-SPACe, a single-window autonomous government agency to promote private sector space-based activities, and ISRO, this test was conducted to validate the technological possibility that rocket engines can be made as a single piece of hardware.
The news comes ahead of Telengana-based rocket-maker Skyroot Aerospace’s planned launch of its first rocket into space in early November, preparations for which have already begun.
Fully domestically-produced, Agnilet was first successfully test-fired at IIT Madras in 2021. The Indian government recently awarded Agnikul the patent to design and manufacture its single-piece 3D-printed rocket engines.
The latest test of Agnilet at TERLS has validated the design and manufacturing methodology followed by Agnikul and is a major milestone for 3D printing technology in India, said the start-up.
“Besides validating our in-house technology, this is also a huge step in understanding how to design, develop and fire rocket engines at a professional level,” said Srinath Ravichandran, co-founder and CEO, Agnikul.
“With the efforts of IN-SPACe, the private space ecosystem is growing in the right direction and also gets access to state-of-the-art technologies to make and test world-class products inside the country,” said Moin SPM, co-founder and COO, Agnikul.
In July this year, Agnikul inaugurated its Rocket Factory-1—India’s first-ever rocket facility dedicated to 3D printed rocket engines at scale—at the IIT Madras Research Park. The company was also the first spacetech startup in the country to strike a deal with ISRO in December 2020 to test its systems using the agency’s expertise and facilities.
Founded in 2017, IIT Madras-incubated Agnikul has thus far raised INR 105 crore in total funding.