BENGALURU: In a first to promote the private sector, India’s space agency said that it would help Chennai rocket startup Agnikul Cosmos to test and qualify its small rocket that can launch 100 kg satellites into low earth orbit.
Agnikul signed a non disclosure agreement with the Department of Space that will allow it to access Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) facilities and technical expertise to build its rocket.
“Under the NDA, the company will be enabled for accessing the facilities and technical expertise available in ISRO centers to proceed with their launch vehicle development program,” the space agency said in a statement. Agnikul founder and CEO Srinath Ravichandran and Isro scientific secretary R Umamaheswaran signed the pact.
Agnikul is the winner in the top innovator category in the ET Startup Awards 2020.
The agreement is the first one of its kind, the Department has signed after the establishment of IN-SPACe, the authorization and regulatory body under DOS for enabling private players to undertake space activities in India, it said.
Agnikul is looking to disrupt the small rockets space at a time when India is opening up the sector to private players. The startup, incubated at IIT Madras in 2017, is building a small rocket with a 3D printed engine – which is lighter, has less moving parts and more efficient compared to conventional engines.
Agnikul is looking at its first launch by the end of 2022. The rocket can be easily configured and kept ready for launch in a couple of weeks.
“We will be complementary to Isro. We are going after a market where several commercial companies are planning to launch thousands of satellites,” Srinath Ravichandran, co-founder and CEO of Agnikul Cosmos had told ET earlier.
India is adopting the US model to support its space industry. The US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had helped Elon Musk’s SpaceX with technical support for it to build the SpaceX rocket, which this year began carrying humans to space.