The Man Who Is Creating Wrinkle In Space
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Always an aerospace enthusiast, the co-founder, and chief executive officer of Chennai-based spacetech startup Agnikul Cosmos Pvt. Ltd, Srinath Ravichandran, the "this is it" moment truly came when he was in Los Angeles visiting universities where he cognized many satellites completely ready to be launched but simply waiting in electronics labs because of lack of launch vehicle availability. He decided that there must be a better way to get things to space and that sowed the seeds for Agnikul and their rocket Agnibaan.
Like a proud parent, Ravichandran basked while talking about his unique concept that stands tall and wallowed while talking to Entrepreneur India and shared, “We are changing the very manner in which satellites go to space. Today, the satellite launch market is fully rocket driven. People are at the mercy of rockets to go to space. We want to make going to space a customer-focused idea.”
Launched in 2017, the startup—in order to warm their customers up with the concept and promote it further with the product they have launched—explains a rocket with analogies to ground transportation systems, and what they are building essentially is a taxi to space. So, in some sense, people connect strongly with them when they explain their satellite vehicle, Agnibaan, as a ‘cab to space’. It is a rocket that will be capable of carrying up to 100kg of payload to low Earth orbits up to 700km with a plug-and-play engine configuration.
“Rockets are simply vehicles that take objects from point A-Earth to point B-some orbit in space. So, why should the riders always be at the mercy of rockets? Why cannot riders dictate when and how they want to launch? This is what we have set out to accomplish. Bring out a market where the entirety of small satellites get to decide when they want to go to space as opposed to having rockets decide when people go to space,” he pressingly added.
The IIT Madras-incubated company founder said they are building technology that complements the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) technology in semi-cryogenic rocket engines and their rocket would add to the fleet of launch vehicles in India in a payload capacity category that ISRO does not have vehicles in. So, they believe that they are doing their small part in enhancing India's self-reliance in space technology and aligning their platform with the Indian government’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
While looking back at the year 2020 in terms of achievements, overcoming foremost obstacles, and treading a new path the head explained that it has been a phenomenal year for the company as they have raised $3.5 million in funding and have become the first company in the country to sign an agreement with ISRO under the newly proposed Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) body.
Ravichandran has said to have strengthened relationships with over fifty patrons and are very close with seven customers.
The founder further maintains that the establishment has recently raised $4 million in funding over two rounds of funding from institutional investors and is further looking to raise another round of funds.
He reminisces meeting the chairman of ISRO for the first time or to hear from college students that they want to build startups seeing their journey is so rewarding and banks as memorable experiences.
Getting a personal tweet from the honorable Prime Minister of India himself in their favor has been simply the “most unforgettable” moment for them and is most cherished.
They are a pre-revenue stage company and break-even would probably happen in 2023, he states in a statement.
“The next trigger for growth for the company would be putting something in orbit as early as the third quarter (Q3) of 2021. We are also planning India's first private launch to space, and building tech that complements ISRO is something you can expect as well,” he revealed.