Chennai-based space startup Agnikul Cosmos has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Alaska Aerospace Corporation to test launch its launch vehicle — Agnibaan — from the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska on Kodiak Island in the US.
Under the agreement, Alaska Aerospace will act as the launch port for Agnikul’s home-grown launch vehicle. The startup has said it is on track to undertake the launch by the end of 2021.

This is a one-of-its-kind partnership where an Indian company will be tying up with a global space port for its launch, founders of IIT-Madras incubated Agnikul Cosmos have said.

The two companies will also work together to secure the required regulatory approvals such as US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launch licencing, US export control and others along with necessary clearances from the concerned Indian authorities.

The aim is to define launch vehicle-spaceport interfaces and procedures, and conduct at least one test launch from PSCA, they said. Additional tests and operational launches are also possible under the agreement.

Srinath Ravichandran, CEO and co-founder of Agnikul, said the partnership is an evidence of the startup’s progress towards launch. “This is a great platform for us to demonstrate our ‘Made In India, for the World’ launch services solution through our mobile vehicle Agnibaan,” he said.

With the majority of small satellite makers (Agnikul’s customer base) in the US, the partnership and subsequent launch would bring attention to the company and thus help in global reach, Moin SPM, co-founder and COO, Agnikul, said. “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,” he added.

“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,” Mark Lester, president and CEO of Alaska Aerospace, said in a statement.

Agnikul is building a small satellite rocket, Agnibaan, that will be capable of carrying up to 100 kg of payload to low Earth orbits up to 700 km. The company is in talks with marquee space industry investors globally for funding and other partnerships.