India's Department of Space (DoS), under which the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and related organizations work, entered into a first-of-its-kind Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with an Indian startup to build a private satellite launch vehicle.
This agreement comes months after DoS established IN-SPACe, an authorization and regulatory body for enabling private players to undertake space activities in India. Under the NDA, the company will be enabled for accessing the facilities and technical expertise available in ISRO centers to proceed with its launch vehicle development program.
M/s Agnikul Cosmos Pvt Ltd is a Chennai based start-up company located in the National Centre for combustion R&D, IITM, Chennai. ISRO would be providing support to the fledgling rocket company to test and qualify their launch vehicle.
A few months ago, the startup had signed a memorandum of agreement with Alaska Aerospace Corporation to test launch their Indian-made Agnibaan rocket from the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska (PSCA) on Kodiak Island in the United States. The launch from Alaska is expected to take place from 2022 onwards.
Under this agreement, Alaska Aerospace and Agnikul will work together to secure several regulatory approvals. They include the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launch licensing, US export control, and will comply with export laws & regulations in India to receive necessary clearances from the Indian authorities as well. The aim is to define launch vehicle-spaceport interfaces, related procedures, and conduct at least one test launch from PSCA.
Srinath Ravichandran, CEO and Co-founder of Agnikul Cosmos, had earlier told Zee Media that they were working with India’s India’s In-space for launching rockets from the country launchpad in Sriharikota.
Earlier when WION asked about the complexities in the logistics of getting a rocket to a foreign land, he said that it would be similar to how flights land in foreign airports. “The rocket can be shipped to the destination and at the launch port we’ll be provided facilities like fuel and tracking and telemetry systems. This enables us to go where the customer is,” he said.
He also felt that there isn’t much of a competition in the segment that his company is targeting - payload of up to 100 kg to low Earth orbits up to 700 km. “There are quite a lot of players making rockets, but very few in the less than 100kg segment,” he said, adding that they were targeting a maiden test launch by end of 2021.