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Agnibaan (SOrTeD) Rocket

What’s in this Article?

  • Table of Contents
    • Why in the News?
    • What is Agnibaan?
    • Importance of the Launch
    • 3D Printing
    • Rocket Specifications
    • Important Facts
    • IN-SPACe
  • Why in the News?
  • Chennai-headquartered space start-up Agnikul Cosmos Private Limited launched the world’s first rocket — Agnibaan Sub Orbital Technology Demonstrator (SOrTeD) — with a single piece 3D-printed engine from Sriharikota at 7.15 a.m. on Thursday (May 30, 2024).
  • Agnibaan SOrTeD is India’s first launch from a private launchpad, called ‘Dhanush’, established by Agnikul. It is also India’s first semi-cryogenic engine-powered rocket launch and the world’s first single piece 3D-printed engine designed and built indigenously.
  • According to details shared by the start-up, the main objective of this mission, which is also the first flight of Agnikul, is to serve as a test flight, showcase home-grown and indigenous technologies, collect critical flight data and ensure optimal To do. Functioning of systems for Agnikul’s orbital launch vehicle, ‘Agnibaan’.
  • What is Agnibaan?
  • Agnibaan is a two-stage rocket with a capacity to carry up to 300 kg to a height of 700 km. 
  • The rocket engines are powered by liquid oxygen or kerosene. 
  • It can access both low- and high-inclination orbits and is completely mobile, designed for accessing more than 10 launch ports, as per the company.
  • Agnibaan used India’s first semi-cryogenic engine, which uses a mix of liquid and gas for propellant. Liquid propellants can be reused and are safer than solid propellants.
  • Semi-cryogenic engines help increase payload capacity, reduce launch costs and improve the overall reliability and performance of the launch vehicles.
  • Agnibaan SOrTeD ( SubOrbital Technological Demonstrator) is a suborbital technological demonstrator of the Agnibaan launch vehicle, manufactured by Indian space startup Agnikul Cosmos.
  • The SOrTeD mission is a single-stage launch vehicle demonstration that is powered by a semi-cryogenic engine called the Agnilet.
  • Importance of the Launch
  • The launch of Agnibaan SOrTeD is notable for multiple reasons:
    • It marks the first launch from a private launchpad in India.
    • It represents India’s inaugural launch of a rocket powered by a semi-cryogenic engine.
    • It will showcase the world’s first entirely 3D-printed engine, designed and manufactured domestically.
  • 3D Printing
  • 3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing which uses materials such as plastics and metals to convert products envisaged on computer-aided design to real three-dimensional items.

It is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing which is cutting out/hollowing out a piece of metal or plastic with, for instance, a milling machine.

  • Rocket Specifications
  • The Agnibaan rocket stands 18 meters tall and has a diameter of 1.3 meters.
  • It is capable of carrying a 100-kilogram payload to an altitude of 700 kilometers.
  • The rocket uses liquid oxygen (LOX) stored in a cryogenic tank and kerosene as propellants.
  • Additionally, it is equipped with a thrust vector controlled, gimballed motor that allows the nozzle to change angles, enabling the thrust to alter the rocket’s flight direction.
  • Maiden Flight Overview
  • Agnibaan’s maiden flight will be sub-orbital, indicating the rocket will not enter space.
  • It will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, following a fully guided, vertical ascent.
  • Upon reaching an altitude of 10 km, the rocket will start its descent, landing in the Bay of Bengal approximately 30 km from its launch point.
  • Engine Design
  • Agnikul’s rocket features a two-stage configuration.
    • The first stage includes a cluster of ‘Agnite’ engines, while the second stage is powered by the ‘Agnilet’ engine.
  • Both types of engines are semi-cryogenic, utilizing a mixture of refined kerosene (kept at room temperature) and supercooled liquid oxygen.
    • These engines, designed and manufactured by Agnikul in India, are notable for being the world’s first single-piece, 3D-printed engines.
  • Key Characteristics
  • The initial stage of the Agnibaan rocket is adaptable, allowing for the installation of four to seven engines based on the mission’s needs.
  • These engines are driven by fuel pumps that use batteries and electric motors for power.
  • For secure export and transportation, the rocket is designed without explosives or pyrotechnics, employing pneumatic systems for stage separation instead.
  • Private Rocket Launch Pad and Mission Control Center
  • In November 2022, Agnikul introduced India’s first privately owned rocket launch pad and mission control center, located at the ISRO spaceport in Sriharikota.
  • The company is developing a technique to launch rockets from a platform mounted on the back of a truck, offering greater flexibility and mobility than conventional launch systems.
  • Test Launch Objectives
  • The test launch of Agnibaan will include all the avionics, telemetry, and guidance systems typically utilized in its commercial missions.
  • The main goal of this test flight is to verify the company’s technology and demonstrate the functionality of the vehicle’s various systems and sub-systems.
  • Important Facts
  • Agnikul Cosmos was established in 2017 by Srinath Ravichandran and Moin SPM, who are both graduates of IIT Madras.
  • The company has secured investments from multiple sources, such as pi Ventures, Speciale Invest, and Artha Venture Fund.
  • Agnikul Cosmos has partnered with several entities, including the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Department of Space (DoS), and the National Centre for Combustion Research and Development.
  • IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre)
  • Nodal Agency: It is a single-window, independent, autonomous agency under the Department of Space (DOS).
  • Aim: It is formed following the Space sector reforms to enable and facilitate the participation of private players and  acts as an interface between ISRO and Non-Governmental Entities (NGEs)  to utilize India’s space resources better.
  • Function: IN-SPACe is responsible to promote, enable, authorize and supervise various space activities of non-governmental entities including building launch vehicles & satellites and providing space-based services. 

It will enable sharing space infrastructure and premises under the control of DOS/ISRO and establishing of new space infrastructure and facilities.

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