India’s Agnikul gets $26.7M to prepare for commercial space launches

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INDIA, Oct 17, (Agencies): Indian space technology startup, Agnikul, has secured $26.7 million in new funding to support its venture into small-lift launch vehicles. The company’s primary goal is to commence commercial satellite launches using its customizable satellite rocket. This funding comes in response to the increasing demand for small satellite launches from a diverse range of industries, including tech giants and startups, aiming to bolster technologies like precise location tracking and expanded internet connectivity.

While established players like SpaceX have already ventured into rideshare missions for small satellites, the burgeoning demand has led to the emergence of new entrants such as Astra, Virgin Orbit, and Rocket Lab, all working to develop tailored solutions.

Agnikul’s innovative approach, embodied by its ‘Agnibann’ small satellite rocket, involves leveraging additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, to streamline production and offer personalized launch options. This Chennai-based startup has demonstrated its capabilities by successfully test-firing a 3D-printed engine named Agnilet.

Agnikul’s mission is to complement the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and address the specific needs of launches involving payloads weighing less than 300 kg. The company’s remarkable accomplishments include the establishment of India’s inaugural private launchpad and mission control center at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota.

Agnikul’s overarching goal is to facilitate satellite launches for payloads of up to 100 kg, with the first test flight anticipated before the close of 2023. Furthermore, the company has already piqued the interest of potential customers, primarily from Europe and Japan, and has formalized memorandums of understanding with several entities.

As India’s space tech industry continues its rapid growth, Agnikul is poised to meet the escalating demand for small satellite launches and broaden its services. This funding is a testament to the company’s potential in revolutionizing the space technology sector and addressing the evolving needs of the space industry.

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