Home / Companies / Start-ups /  India gets its first private launchpad and control centre

NEW DELHI : The Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) on Monday unveiled the first privately designed and operated rocket launchpad and mission control centre in India.

The facility, unveiled by S. Somanath, chairman of Isro and secretary Department of Space (DoS), is designed and will be fully operated by homegrown space startup Agnikul Cosmos, Isro confirmed in a statement.

The launchpad and mission control centre, located in Isro’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, is expected to host its first rocket launch in the coming weeks by Agnikul itself.

“The first exclusive launch pad for a private launch vehicle has come up at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC). So now India can travel to space from one more space platform. Thanks to Agnikul," Somanath said. Srinath Ravichandran, chief executive of Agnikul, told Mint that while the launch facility will be presently used by Agnikul only, the company will be “open to other companies using the launchpad in future".

A senior industry official with knowledge of the matter said that any private space firm would be allowed to set up their launch facilities in Isro premises—by making requisite payments towards the use of the latter.

Isro facilities are currently being enabled by the central government’s nodal space organization, Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (In-Space). Once the final version of the national space policy is unveiled, a transfer of technology clause under this policy will enable private firms to access or share Isro infrastructure.

Agnikul Cosmos is expected to launch its first rocket called Agnibaan. In a statement, the company confirmed that the first launch would include a smaller version of the rocket, which will carry a payload of up to 100kg to a low-earth orbit of up to 700km. Ravichandran said that the company plans to execute the launch “before the end of this year".

The payload aboard a rocket is typically satellites deployed in orbits as required by companies. Agnikul Cosmos did not respond to an email seeking confirmation on the matter till press time.

India’s first private rocket launch occurred on 18 November, when private space firm Skyroot Aerospace launched its suborbital rocket from Isro’s SDSC facility.


Shouvik Das

Shouvik Das is a science, space and technology reporter for Mint and TechCircle. In his previous stints, he worked at publications such as CNN-News18 and Outlook Business. He has also reported on consumer technology and the automobile sector.
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