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Chennai-based spacetech startup Agnikul partners with DoS under IN-SPACe entity to develop launch vehicles

As a part of this agreement, Agnikul will work with ISRO for development of a launch vehicle. It will get access to mentorship, technical information and facilities from the Department of Space for building the launch vehicle.

Chennai-based spacetech startup Agnikul Cosmos has entered into a non-disclosure agreement with the Department of Space (DoS) under the newly established Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) entity. As a part of this agreement, the IIT-Madras incubated startup will work with ISRO to develop a launch vehicle.

According to the official statement, Agnikul will be working with various ISRO centers and will get access to technical information and facilities necessary to go forward with their launch vehicle development. It will also enable the DoS to mentor the private players and help them collaborate with the Indian space agency.

Launched in 2017 by Srinath Ravichandran and Moin SPM, Agnikul is involved in building India’s private small satellite launch vehicle. Their core product, Agnibaan, is designed to carry up to 100 kg of payload to low earth orbits of up to 700 km with a plug-and-play engine configuration.

“ISRO’s support to startups at an early stage is a strong sense of encouragement for all of us in India who are looking to build space technology. ISRO chairman mentioned in July 2020, right after the IN-SPACe announcement, that private players will be encouraged by ISRO even before the official establishment of IN-SPACe, and we are seeing that it came true today. It is an unforgettable moment for all of us at Agnikul to be the first player in the country to be signing such an agreement,” said Srinath Ravichandran, CEO and Co-founder of Agnikul Cosmos.
During the brief event which was chaired by Secretary, DoS & Chairman ISRO, Dr K Sivan, he encouraged private startups to explore disruptive technologies and find non-conventional ways to manufacture launch vehicles.

“It is a happy day for our country, and we are eager to extend our support to Agnikul as they progress along in their journey” said Shri R Umamaheswaran, Scientific Secretary and Chair of the interim IN-SPACe empowered Committee.

Earlier in June, the Union Cabinet had announced the formation of an autonomous nodal agency, IN-SPACe, an extension of ISRO, to include, mentor and support private players in space related activities.

Earlier, in an official statement, ISRO had explained that the nodal agency will be responsible for monitoring the private players, and will be involved in the “promotion and handholding of industries, building launch vehicles and satellites, sharing ISRO facilities, establishing several facilities such as launch pad inside the DoS premises, and monitoring space-based services.”

The agency will be led by the chairman under whom full-time board members from the industry, academia, and DoS will be working.

The initiative is aimed at developing a public-private partnership and further develop the spacetech market in India. With this agreement, Agnikul becomes the first startup to join ISRO’s vision in making the private sector a co-traveller in exploring space.