Powered by World’s First 3D-Printed Rocket Engine, Agnikul Cosmos Successfully Launches its First Sub-Orbital Test Vehicle


New Delhi: Powered by the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed rocket engine, space startup Agnikul Cosmos on May 30, 2024 successfully launched its first sub-orbital test vehicle. In a mission of many firsts, Agnibaan SOrTeD (Sub-Orbital Technology Demonstrator) lifted off at 7.15 am on Thursday.


After calling off its launch at least four times previously, it was the second launch by a private startup in India and the first to use a private launchpad set up by the company at the country’s only operational spaceport at Sriharikota.

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


Congratulating Agnikul Cosmos in a post on X, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said that it is “a major milestone, as the first-ever controlled flight of a semi-cryogenic liquid engine realised through additive manufacturing”.

The usage of the 3D-printed manufacturing process is likely to lower the launch cost and cut down the vehicle assembly time as engine parts are manufactured separately and assembled later. The company aims to offer affordable launch services to small satellites.

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Prof Satyanarayanan R Chakravarthy, founding advisor Agnikul Cosmos and head of National Centre for Combustion Research and Development, IIT Madras said, “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 the ability to rapidly assemble rockets that is unparalleled.”

Developed by the IIT Madras-incubated startup, the launch vehicle also demonstrated India’s first semi-cryogenic engine. The engine—called Agnilet—uses sub-cooled oxygen as fuel. Cryogenic engines, such as the one used in the upper stages of India’s heaviest launch vehicle, LVM3, use gases liquified at extremely low temperatures as fuel. The launch vehicle has been designed to launch from its mobile launchpad, called Dhanush, from any location.


While this was a sub-orbital launch, the vehicle can fly payloads ranging from 30 kg to 300 kg. The mission was designed to reach a height of about 8 kilometres before splashing into the sea.

Agnikul Cosmos hopes to conduct its first orbital launch, which will be able to carry satellites to an orbit around the Earth by the end of the financial year. They hope to provide regular launches in the next calendar year. The other private launch provider Skyroot, which achieved its first sub-orbital launch in 2022, is also likely to undertake its first orbital launch this year.

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Srinath Ravichandran, co-founder and CEO of Agnikul Cosmos commented, “This is the culmination of 1000s of hours of reviews and hard work by the 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.”