India’s strides in the private space sector continue to come through. After having seen the first-ever private space rocket launch, Agnikul Cosmos, another one of India’s private space tech startups, today launched its own launch pad, the first such venture by a private player in the country.

Chennai headquartered space-tech start-up player Agnikul Cosmos announced that it has set up the first-ever launchpad in the country to be operated by a private space-tech player. Designed and created with guidance from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Center (IN-SPACe), India’s first-ever privately-built launch pad will be used for the testing and development of new launch vehicles.

Inaugurated by S Somnath, ISRO chairman and the secretary of the Department of Space at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, the new launch pad consists of two sections – the Agnikul launchpad itself (ALP), and the Agnikul Mission Control Center (AMCC), which is 4 kilometres apart from the launch pad. All the critical systems connecting the two sections are redundant in order to ensure 100% operationality during countdown.

Not only will the launch pad support liquid-stage controlled launches, but it will also help ISRO’s range operations unit in the monitoring and supervising important flight safety parameters during launches. Additionally, it is equipped with the ability to transmit important information to ISRO’s Mission Control Center.

“The first exclusive launch pad for a private launch vehicle has come up at Satish Dhawan Space Center (SDSC). Now India can travel to space from one more space platform. Thanks to Agnikul,” Somanath said at the inauguration event.

“Establishment of this private launchpad marks a significant step in opening the Indian space sector to private players and affirms the commitment of ISRO/DOS for facilitating the same,” ISRO wrote in a press release.

“Humbled & privileged to have had the opportunity to build our 1st launch pad & Mission Control Center within Sriharikota & to have it inaugurated by Chairman, @isro. Agnikul’s launches would be carried out from here. Thanks to @isro & @INSPACeIND for their help & valuable support,” Agnikul wrote in a tweet.

For now, the launchpad is capable of, and will be used for, the test launch of Agnikul’s Agnibaan launch vehicle – which is a two-stage, customizable launch vehicle that is capable of delivering up to 100 kg of payload to orbits around 700 km. Agnibaan will be powered by Agnilet, the first-ever single-piece 3D-printed engine that was entirely designed and manufactured in the country. And based on the results of Agnikul’s first launch from the launchpad – which will be a controlled and guided vertical launch using Agnilet – the startup has plans of a full-scale commercial launch with customer payloads in coming March or April.