Agnikul Secures $26.7 Million Investment To Prepare For Commercial Space Launches


Agnikul, an Indian space tech startup, has raised $26.7 million in new funding to accelerate its plans for commercial space launches. The company aims to utilize its customizable satellite rocket for launching small satellites weighing up to 500 kg, catering to the growing demand for smaller rockets in the industry.

Key Takeaway

Indian space tech startup Agnikul has secured $26.7 million in funding to accelerate its plans for commercial space launches. The company aims to meet the increasing demand for small satellite launch vehicles by offering tailor-made launches using its customizable Agnibann rocket. Agnikul seeks to complement India’s space agency, ISRO, by focusing on the less than 300 kg payloads segment. The startup plans to commence commercialization after its first test flight, expected by the end of 2023.

The Growing Demand for Small Satellite Launch Vehicles

The demand for small satellites has been rapidly increasing among companies, both big tech giants and startups, looking to improve existing technologies and expand internet connectivity to remote areas. Traditional launch vehicles have been launching small satellites as secondary payloads, but the surge in demand has prompted the need for specific solutions.

Several space companies, including Astra, Virgin Orbit, and Rocket Lab, have introduced small satellite launch vehicles to fill this demand. However, there is still a significant gap between supply and demand, leaving room for new players like Agnikul.

Agnibann: The Customizable Small Satellite Rocket

Agnikul’s small satellite rocket, called Agnibann, sets itself apart by using a single-piece engine that eliminates the need for assembly or conventional manufacturing. The company employs additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, to significantly reduce production time and offer tailor-made launches. This approach aligns with that of US-based Relativity Space.

The startup has demonstrated its capabilities through the successful test-firing of a 3D-printed engine called Agnilet in early 2021. Agnikul also holds a patent for the engine and has established a facility dedicated to 3D printing to support mass production.

Complementing ISRO and Targeting Light Payload Segment

Agnikul aims to complement the efforts of India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), by focusing on launches in the less than 300 kg payloads segment. This segment falls below the capacity of ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).

The startup envisions filling the gap that ISRO does not currently address directly and attracting customers from Europe, Japan, and other Indian satellite tech startups. Agnikul plans to commence commercialization following its first test flight, scheduled for before the end of 2023.

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