India makes history with launch of world's first 3D-printed rocket engine

Source: AgnikulCosmos on X:

Indian space startup Agnikul Cosmos successfully test-launched the world's first flight powered by a single-piece 3D-printed rocket engine.

The indigenously designed rocket, launched on May 30, marks India's first test rocket with a semi-cryogenic engine.

“Humbled to announce the successful completion of our first flight - Mission 01 of Agnibaan SOrTeD - from our own and India’s first & only private Launchpad within SDSC-SHAR at Sriharikota. All the mission objectives of this controlled vertical ascent flight were met and performance was nominal,” Agnikul Cosmos announced on X (formerly Twitter).

“The vehicle was completely designed in-house and was powered by the world’s first single-piece 3D printed engine and also happens to be India’s first flight with a semi-cryo engine,” the company added.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to X to celebrate this milestone. “A remarkable feat which will make the entire nation proud! The successful launch of Agnibaan rocket powered by the world’s first single-piece 3D printed semi-cryogenic engine is a momentous occasion for India’s space sector and a testament to the remarkable ingenuity of our Yuva Shakti,” Modi stated.

Following the successful rocket launch, Agnikul Cosmos shared a video of the launch on June 2, detailing several key achievements of the mission. According to the company, Mission 01 of Agnibaan SOrTeD achieved several firsts:

  • The first-ever semi-cryogenic engine launch in India.
  • The first-ever launch from a private launchpad in India.
  • The first launch in India driven by computers operating on Linux.
  • The first launch in India utilising an ethernet-based architecture for connecting flight computers within the vehicle.
  • The first flight using aviation-grade jet fuel and industrial-grade liquid oxygen.
  • The world's first flight powered by a single-piece 3D printed engine.

The success of Agnikul Cosmos paves the way for significantly reduced time and costs associated with building rockets. Co-founder and CEO Srinath Ravichandran explained to TechCrunch before the launch that their 3D printing technology allows them to build a rocket engine in just 72 to 75 hours, compared to the 10 to 12 weeks required using traditional methods.

“We stand out because of the single-piece component where there is no human intervention in the process; what comes out of the printer is of full length, without any welding or tightening or anything of that sort,” Ravichandran said.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) also announced in May that they had successfully tested a 3D-printed rocket engine, which in its manufacturing required only one engine part instead of fourteen, saving the organisation 60% more time and 90% less raw material.

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