Indian space tech company successfully test-fires world's first single-piece 3D-rocket engine

The test has now validated the startup's patented design and manufacturing methodology.
Deena Theresa
Representative image of a rocket launch.
Representative image of a rocket launch.

Elen11/iStock 

A space-tech startup headquartered in Chennai, India, successfully test-fired the world's single-piece 3D-printed engine.

Agnikul Cosmos on Tuesday said that Agnilet was test-fired at the Vertical Test Facility, Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS), at Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram. The test was supported by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) and IN-SPACe, a nodal agency for promoting and regulating space players.

Founded in 2017 by Srinath Ravichandran, Moin SPM, and Professor S.R. Chakravarthy, Agnikul is on a mission to make space accessible and affordable.

“This is an unforgettable moment for all of us here at Agnikul," said Srinath Ravichandran, co-founder & CEO of Agnikul. "Besides validating our in-house technology, this is also a huge step in understanding how to design, develop and fire rocket engines at a professional level. We are incredibly thankful to IN-SPACe and ISRO for making this happen. Also grateful to the Indian Government for having made such efforts possible by the creation of IN-SPACe," he said.

The test was conducted to verify that rocket engines can be made as a single piece of hardware.

Agnilet was first successfully test-fired in 2021

Agnilet is claimed to be the world's first single-piece 3D-printed rocket engine fully designed and manufactured in India. It was first successfully test-fired at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in 2021. The latest test has validated the startup's design and manufacturing methodology, for which it has received a patent. According to the startup, it is a significant milestone for 3D printing in India.

"The novelty here is that the entire rocket engine is 3D printed from top to bottom. What comes out of the 3D printer can directly be used in the rocket. There is no complexity in assembly or fabrication, and the turnaround time is less than four days, Ravichandran told YourStory in 2021.

Moin SPM, co-founder & COO, Agnikul, said: "With the efforts of IN-SPACe, the private space ecosystem is growing in the right direction and also gets access to state-of-the-art technologies to make and test world-class products inside the country."

Agnilet will be used in the second stage of Agnikul's launch vehicle

Agnikul recently announced the inauguration of its Rocket Factory- 1, India’s first-ever rocket facility dedicated to 3D-printing such rocket engines at scale, situated at the IIT Madras Research Park.

The IIT Madras-incubated startup was the first Indian company to ink an agreement with ISRO in December 2020. And the agreement signed under the IN-SPACe initiative enables Agnikul to access ISRO’s expertise and facilities to test its systems.

Earlier, Ravichandran had revealed that Agnilet would be used in the second stage of Agnikul’s launch vehicle Agniban, 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.

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