India’s space startup calls off maiden rocket launch for a fourth time

The test flight of India’s Agnikul Cosmos’ first rocket was canceled just moments before its scheduled launch on Tuesday. This marks the fourth cancellation in the past three months. The previous three cancellations were due to technical issues, with one being called off only 90 seconds before takeoff. The launch was initially delayed due to a technical glitch in the countdown activities and a new lift-off time was set. However, just five seconds before the new launch time, it was put on hold to check the igniter performance and ultimately called off.
The objective of the mission was to test the new “semi-cryogenic” engine and 3D-printed parts within a two-minute timeframe. If successful, it would have been a significant advancement for India, as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has yet to achieve a successful flight using a semi-cryogenic engine, which combines liquid and gas propellants.

Agnikul Cosmos’ Agnibaan rocket is a customizable two-stage launch vehicle capable of carrying payloads weighing up to 300 kg (approximately 660 lb) to orbits at an altitude of around 700 km (435 miles), as stated by the company. In comparison, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy can transport payloads of up to 63,500 kg to low Earth orbit.

In 2022, Skyroot, a private Indian company, successfully launched India’s first privately developed rocket from ISRO’s launch site.

Established in 2017, Agnikul, named after the Hindi and Sanskrit word for fire, is the first private space company in India.