IIT-Chennai incubated space tech start-up AgniKul Cosmos has signed a memorandum of agreement (MoU) with Alaska Aerospace Corporation to test launch its Agnibaan launch vehicle from the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) on Kodiak Island in the US.
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Under the agreement, Alaska Aerospace and Agnikul will work together to secure regulatory approvals such as the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launch licence, US export control and will comply with export laws and regulations in India to receive necessary clearances from concerned authorities. The aim is to define launch vehicle-spaceport interfaces and procedures, and conduct at least one test launch from PSCA. The launches are expected to begin from 2022.
Founded in 2016 by engineers and space enthusiasts Srinath Ravichandran and Moin SPM, AgniKul is a space tech startup that helps in designing and launching orbital class rockets for micro and nano satellites.
“We are thrilled Agnikul has partnered with Alaska Aerospace for high inclination flight testing,” said Mark Lester, President and CEO of Alaska Aerospace. “Agnikul has established itself as a leading rocket technology company, and we are pleased Alaska’s proven launch infrastructure and expertise continue to attract new space launch companies from around the world,” he added.
Under the agreement, Agnikul will be able to conduct additional tests and operational launches. This partnership could boost the small satellite launch market towards a customer-centric business model as opposed to what it is today – a vehicle-centric model.
“By partnering with Alaska Aerospace, Agnikul engineers and staff can focus on the technical complexities of perfecting Agnibaan's launch operations from different environmental conditions across geographies,” said Agnikul Co-founder and COO Moin SPM. "Having access to high latitude launch locations is an important aspect of our strategy for offering customer-centric launch services, and this partnership with Alaska Aerospace is going to be directly helpful."
Chennai-based Agnikul, which pioneered 3D printed single-piece rocket engines and works out of the National Centre for Combustions Research at IIT Madras, is developing a satellite launch vehicle with a payload capacity of up to 100 kg.
Earlier this year, the space tech startup raised Rs 23.4 crore in a pre series A funding round led by pi Ventures and saw participation from Hari Kumar of LionRock Capital, Artha Ventures, LetsVenture, Globevestor, CIIE and existing investor Speciale Invest.