India’s Agnikul Lands $24M in Series B Funding, Fueling Space 3D Printing Innovation

India’s Agnikul Lands $24M in Series B Funding, Fueling Space 3D Printing Innovation

In a significant development for India’s emerging space technology sector, Agnikul Cosmos has raised Rs 2 billion (roughly $24 million) in a Series B funding round. The news comes as the company makes impressive strides in the field, with a particular focus on 3D printing. This funding boost represents a substantial step forward for the Chennai, India-based startup as it aims to expand its operations and contribute to India’s growing presence in the global space market.

Led by returning investors such as, Pi Ventures, Mayfield India, and joined by Celesta Capital and Artha Venture Fund, Agnikul has secured significant financial support. This boost increases Agnikul’s total financial backing to roughly $58.6 million, providing it with the resources necessary to drive its ambitious goals forward.

Co-founder and CEO Srinath Ravichandran said on social media that “capital infusions are always exciting, humbling and also a huge source of motivation to go and get more work done.” Moreover, he states the Series B fundraiser will help the startup look “beyond the first few launches.”

Agnikul’s Agnibaan vehicle at the Launchpad to commence integration checks. Image courtesy of Agnikul.

Tech milestone

One of the standout features of Agnikul is its pioneering use of 3D printing in rocket manufacturing. Traditional methods of assembling rocket engines can be complex and time-consuming. But like many of its competitors, Agnikul recognized the need for a more efficient approach and developed a cutting-edge, 3D printed engine. With the technology, engineers can create a single integrated propulsion engine with an optimized design. Unlike traditional engines that require multiple components and assembly, Agnikul’s engines are produced in a single 3D printed piece, streamlining the manufacturing process.

The company’s use of laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) and top-quality aerospace materials like copper, Inconel, Monel, and titanium allows them to combine all engine parts during the 3D printing process. This creates a light engine, weighing just five to six kilograms, in contrast to traditional engines that can weigh up to 25 kilograms. This weight reduction not only enhances the efficiency of space vehicles but also reduces the cost of launching missions.

Moreover, the company states that its one-piece 3D printed engine called Agnilet simplifies error detection and qualification, making it easier and quicker to ensure the engine’s reliability and performance.

3D printed Agnilet. Image courtesy of Agnikul Cosmos.

Space frontier

Agnikul has been making impressive strides. Last year, it launched India’s first factory for 3D printed rockets, named Agnibaan, a spacecraft that can efficiently transport payloads of up to 100 kilograms to low Earth orbits (LEOs) spanning 700 kilometers. Thanks to its plug-and-play engine design, Agnibaan allows customization to suit specific mission requirements.

Furthermore, Agnikul achieved a noteworthy milestone by inaugurating India’s inaugural private launchpad in Sriharikota, developed in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe). This marked a step forward in privatizing India’s space sector, facilitating more accessible and cost-effective access to space.

Last August, Agnikul’s workforce came together to celebrate a historic moment for India. The nation became the first to reach the lunar south-polar region intact. The Chandrayaan-3 mission, featuring the lander Vikram and rover Pragyaan, spent approximately ten days in this remote lunar region, collecting valuable data and images destined for Earth. This achievement, which exemplifies India’s prowess in space exploration, is closely linked to Agnikul’s objectives.

Agnikul’s 3D printed engine. Image courtesy of Agnikul.

India’s rise

The company’s achievements align seamlessly with India’s broader aspirations in the global space market. The nation’s presence in this industry accounts for just 2% of the $400 billion global commercial space market. However, the country has set an ambitious target of increasing its share to $40 billion by 2040. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vigorous drive towards space sector privatization and the attraction of increased foreign investment has created an environment where companies like Agnikul can thrive. The successful Chandrayaan-3 mission has bolstered India’s credibility in the global space community, offering further momentum to the nation’s space-related endeavors, including the work of Agnikul.

The startup’s commitment to reducing launch costs and offering pricing independent of payload mass positions it as a potential game-changer in the industry. The company’s innovative 3D printed rocket engines, along with its dedication to simplifying access to space, make it a key player in India’s journey toward becoming a prominent force in the global space arena. As the private space sector continues to gain momentum, Agnikul’s recent funding success reinforces the growing confidence in India’s capabilities and potential in the space tech industry.

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