India Gets its First Private Launchpad and Control Centre at Sriharikota
Just some days after the launch of India’s first privately built rocket Vikram-S, a private firm has inaugurated its own rocket launch pad and mission control centre which is India’s first private rocket launchpad and mission control centre. This latest development from Chennai-based rocket company Agnikul Cosmos will enable them to launch their own rockets into space. This facility contains two sections – Agnikul Launchpad (ALP) and Agnikul Mission Control Centre(AMCC). It is located within India’s existing and lone spaceport, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.
The new facility has been inaugurated on the 28th of November, by the Chairman, of ISRO, Dr S. Somanath, senior officials from ISRO and the Agnikul team. It has been designed by Agnikul assisted by IN-SPACe (the government entity which supports and promotes private space firms in India).
A six-metre tall single-stage rocket will be flying Agnikul’s patented semi-cryogenic engine, putting India on the world map. Agnikul’s first launch will be a controlled & guided mission having a vertical launch and will happen from this launchpad. The mission would be a technology demonstrator that will mirror Agnikul’s orbital launch but at a reduced scale. The company’s Agnibaan rocket is a customisable, two-stage rocket, capable of taking up to 100 kg payload to orbits around 700-km high (low Earth orbits) and enables plug-and-play configuration. Agnilet is the world’s first single-piece 3D printed engine fully designed and manufactured in India and was successfully test-fired in early 2021 & became the first company in the country to test its engines at ISRO.
The space agency said the establishment of this private launchpad marks a significant step in opening the space sector to private players. It affirms the commitment of ISRO and the Department of Space. It may be noted Agnikul Cosmos, incubated by IIT Madras, became the first Indian firm to sign an agreement with ISRO, in December 2020. Under the IN-SPACe initiative, the firm gained access to ISRO’s expertise to build Agnibaan vehicles and launchpads.