India’s Agnikul Cosmos Achieves Milestone with First Launch of Agnibaan Rocket

India's Agnikul Cosmos Achieves Milestone with First Launch of Agnibaan Rocket

India’s Agnikul Cosmos launched its Agnibaan rocket for the first time on Thursday, marking a significant milestone with the only Indian rocket engine that uses both gas and liquid fuel. This event was the country’s second flight of a privately built rocket.

The Agnibaan’s inaugural flight had faced multiple delays over the past two months due to technical issues, with the most recent cancellation occurring just five seconds before lift-off on Tuesday. However, on Thursday, the customizable, two-stage launch vehicle, designed to carry up to 300 kg (661 lb) into an orbit approximately 700 kilometers (435 miles) high, successfully flew for two minutes, reaching a maximum altitude of 8,076 meters before splashing down into the ocean.

India's Agnikul Cosmos Achieves Milestone with First Launch of Agnibaan Rocket

“All the mission objectives of this controlled vertical ascent flight were met and performance was nominal,” the company stated.

India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has not yet successfully flown a rocket with a “semi-cryogenic” engine. “A major milestone, as the first-ever controlled flight of a semi-cryogenic liquid engine realized through additive manufacturing,” ISRO said on social media platform X.

Thursday’s suborbital flight aimed to test the new engine and its 3D-printed parts. Pawan K Goenka, chairman of the space regulator Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), praised the event as a “historic moment.” The Indian Space Association (ISpA) noted that the launch would “bolster global confidence” in India’s private space industry.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been advocating for the privatization and commercialization of the country’s space sector in recent years. India’s first privately developed rocket, created by Skyroot, launched in 2022.

Agnikul, founded in 2017 and named after the Hindi and Sanskrit word for fire, operates India’s first private launchpad and mission control center, whereas all other launchpads are managed by ISRO.

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