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SOURCE: IANS

The government’s opening up of the space market for private players provided an opportunity in the sector, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) said on Monday. A two-stage orbital launch vehicle called Agnibaan powered by India’s first patented single-piece 3D-printed semi-cryogenic engines, developed and incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, was launched on May 30. The launch vehicle has been developed by space tech startup Agnikul, incubated at the IIT Madras Incubation Cell, and showcased in a startup expo during DST‘s Startup Utsav in August 2022.

The startup works out of the National Centre for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD) at IIT Madras which is supported by the DST.

“Working out of NCCRD, the Chennai-based startup has developed a range of technologies that can improve the reliability of space engines and speed up their manufacturing, making it easier to organise space missions,” the DST said.

The startup has successfully launched its first inaugural mission — Agnibaan SOrTeD (Agnibaan Sub-Orbital Technology Demonstrator), a single-stage vehicle propelled by a single semi-cryogenic pressure-fed engine which has been used for Agnibaan.

This endeavour took place from India’s first private launchpad at SDSC SHAR. NCCRD has been the training ground for Agnikul, where they learnt the intricacies of building a rocket and this helped the startup figure out the technology in the initial phases.

Another Technology Innovation Hub (TIH) funded by DST, Pravartak Technologies from IIT Madras became their partners for developing and commercialising technologies for space and deep space, the department mentioned.

“They used the technologies they had developed to start manufacturing the engines at the company’s additive manufacturing facility at IIT Madras Research Park,” it said.

The DST’s TBI (Technology Business Incubator) supported startup established India’s first private launchpad along with a Mission Control Centre at Sriharikota range. The DST mentioned that the launch of Agnibaan SorTeD helped achieve the world’s first flight with a single-piece patented rocket engine.