India to do 19 launches through March 2025

India's planned launches through March 2025

According to India’s space bureaucracy IN-SPACe, that nation has planned as many as 19 launches through March 2025.

The image to the right shows the manifest that IN-SPACe released. That agency is tasked with encouraging India’s private and independnt space industry, and it claims that 30 missions in total are planned, with half by commercial companies. This number however includes payloads and suborbital test missions, not just orbital launches. Based on the manifest to the right it appears that 19 of these missions are launches, with six being entirely private launches. One of those private launches, the first of Agnikul’s commercial Agnibaan rocket, will be suborbital.

It thus appears that in 2024 India hopes to complete 14 orbital launches. If so, this would double that nation’s previous record of seven launches in a single year. This schedule is very aspirational, with those six entirely commercial launches likely not all happening as planned.

India rocket startup Agnikul raises $26.7 million in new private investment capital

The new colonial movement: The Indian rocket startup Agnikul has now raised an additional $26.7 million in private investment capital, bringing its total cash on hand now to about $40 million.

The company hopes to complete the first suborbital launch of its Vikram-S rocket in mid-November. If successful, it will be the second private rocket startup in India to do it, joining Skyroot, which did its first suborbital test flight last year. Both companies plan orbital versions of these rockets, and are also likely bidding to take over the SSLV (Small Satellite Launch Vehicle) rocket from India’s space agency ISRO. The Modi government is offering to literally give it to a private company to operate for profit.

Rocket startup Agnikul Cosmos opens first commercial launchpad in India

Capitalism in space: The Indian rocket startup Agnikul Cosmos has completed construction on the first privately owned launchpad in India, with the first suborbital launch planned before the end of this year.

Agnikul’s infrastructure comprises a launchpad and a Mission Control center 4 kilometres away, both within ISRO’s facilities on the island located off the coast of Chennai. The space pad was designed by Agnikul, constructed over two months, and is a part of the MoU signed between ISRO and Agnikul (among other space startups) under the new regulatory authority IN-SPACe’s first batch of support projects for private companies from ISRO.

Currently, it is capable of launching Agnikul’s rocket, the Agnibaan. [emphasis mine]

The first test launch is apparently not going to be orbital, but a technology test of the launch pad, its fueling facilities, and the 3D-printed engine Agnikul has built for Agnibaan.

The highlighted words once again note the effort by the Indian government to emulate the U.S. policy in the past decade to transition from a government-run space program to a privately-run competing and chaotic space industry. This MoU (memorandum of understanding) probably resembles the first space act agreements NASA issued to SpaceX and Orbital ATK. The agreements gave private companies aid and assistance, but the companies retained full ownership of what they build, and were left free to design things as they saw fit, not as the government dictated.

That two different Indian companies, Agnikul and Skyroot, are on the verge of their first orbital launches signals that this policy is succeeding. Agnikul has tested its engines and built its launchpad. Skyroot has completed its first suborbital launch.