From Campus to Cosmos: Tracing the Journey of IIT Bombay’s Student Rocketeers IITB Rocket Team: Building Adyant and Representing the Institute in Global Rocketry Competitions

Founded in 2020 by six passionate students, IIT Bombay’s Rocket Team has grown rapidly since then. With the vision to revolutionize the field of rocket engineering, they have garnered recognition as India's first INSPACe and PMO-recognized tech team. Mentored by faculty advisors Prof. Neeraj Kumbhakarna and Prof. Nagendra Kumar, as well as guided by Mr. Jim Wilkerson (official Flyer of Record) and scientists at ISRO and the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, the team is setting new benchmarks in rocketry.

Within a short period, the team successfully built Adyant, a high-powered solid propellant rocket. With a payload capacity of 4kg and a target altitude of 10,000 feet, Adyant stands at an impressive 220cm in height and 15cm in diameter. Adyant proudly represented India as one of the four teams selected to represent India at the Spaceport America Cup 2023, held in New Mexico, USA. More than 150 teams across 24+ countries participated in the world's largest inter-college rocketry competition.

The team is hopeful about representing India at the Latin America Space Challenge, the second-largest experimental rocket and satellite engineering competition, which will be held in Cape Canavial, Brazil, in August 2023.


The Dean ACR Newsletter is delighted to speak to the team for the September 2023 issue.

Hi guys, first of all, CONGRATULATIONS on all of your amazing accomplishments so far! I bet you guys are very proud of yourselves, as you should be. Can you begin by telling us your name and your academic background first?

Hello! I’m Anish, the Business Head of the Rocket Team, and joining me today are several skilled individuals who are integral to our team’s operations.

  • Varun oversees the Airframe department
  • Shobhit leads the Avionics subsystem
  • Rajeev is one of our team leads

Our team comprises more than 30 students from diverse fields such as mechanical, aerospace, and electrical engineering, including both undergraduate and PhD scholars. Each team member contributes their unique expertise and skills to our team.

How did the idea of building a ‘Rocket Team’ come about?

Raj, Neha, Anmol, Tejas, Vishnu, and Vedant, our founding members, shared a deep fascination for rocketry, particularly in the field of liquid motor rocket engines. Fuelled by their passion, they embarked on an Innovation and Technology Support Program (ITSP) project in this captivating domain. As their interest grew stronger, they recognized the potential of forming a dedicated tech team at IIT Bombay focused on designing and constructing rockets. Thus, in 2020, just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IITB Rocket Team was established. We had our first round of recruitments in 2021 which marked the beginning of our exciting journey.

For those of us who are completely unfamiliar with rocket engineering – can you explain to us in layman’s terms what it means? And why is it important to the world we live in?

Rocket engineering involves the fields of designing, building, and launching rockets. It involves creating vehicles that can travel through space by using powerful engines to produce thrust and overcome the force of gravity. Rocket engineers work on various aspects such as the structure of the rocket, the propulsion system, and the guidance and control systems. Their goal is to develop efficient and reliable rockets that can carry payloads, like satellites.

Rockets have revolutionized our lives through satellite communication and made space travel possible. They help us study the Earth’s climate, monitor disasters, and understand the universe.

Tell us more about Adyant, your inaugural high-powered rocket.

The name Adyant is derived from the Sanskrit term meaning “from beginning to end.” Designed entirely in-house, Adyant was meticulously crafted to achieve a 3 km apogee while carrying a 4 kg payload, utilizing a Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) M2500-T solid motor. The rocket’s development process involved a rigorous combination of manual calculations, CAD software, and simulations.

The airframe of Adyant primarily consists of GlassFibre composites, with Carbon Fibre employed for the fins. To ensure a safe recovery, the rocket implements a dual-deployment parachute system. Its specifications closely adhere to the guidelines set forth by the Spaceport America Cup, an esteemed competition through which our team showcased its potential on an international stage.

Adyant represents our team’s precision in design, manufacturing, and assembly. It serves as a testament to the passion, dedication, and hard work exhibited by every team member, bringing our collective dream to life.

Take us through the many journeys that Adyant has been through over the past few years. Talk to us about your successes in India and overseas.

The inception of Adyant took place when our team was formed, driven by the ambition to participate in the prestigious Spaceport America Cup competition. Unfortunately, our initial application for the 2022 edition was rejected due to a lack of experience, technical knowledge, and expertise required by the competition. After this setback, we regrouped, committed to bridging our knowledge gaps, and dedicated our time to acquiring the necessary skills and experience.

Although Adyant stands as our first high-powered rocket, it is not our inaugural venture into rocketry. During this period, we focused on starting small to gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies involved before scaling up to our current position. We conducted a series of launch tests with smaller rockets, reaching apogees ranging from 100 to 300 meters, which amounted to only 10 percent of our intended target apogee. Throughout this phase, we faced numerous challenges, setbacks, failed launches, and unmet targets. However, even the smallest successes kept us motivated, determined, and on track. All our efforts eventually paid off when we qualified for the Spaceport America Cup 2023 through Adyant.

We are extremely proud that we came first in India and placed a commendable 66th position out of 159 teams in the SA competition.

The team emerged winners at the Engineer’s Conclave at the Inter-IIT Tech Meet 2023 and secured the 2nd prize in Techzibition at IIT Roorkee. We have also excelled in various competitions held during annual fests at esteemed institutions such as IIT Kanpur, IIT Roorkee, Techkriti, Cognizance, and DA-IICT.

How has the IIT Bombay ecosystem helped/supported your dreams for the team?

IIT Bombay creates a vibrant ecosystem that nurtures technological advancements and encourages us to dream big and strive higher. It provides excellent facilities, funding, and experienced faculty advisors who guide us through technical and logistical challenges. The central workshop, Tinkerer’s Laboratory, SINE lab, and other resources are our go-to places for component manufacturing. The dedicated lab staff consistently offers valuable assistance.

We are grateful for the Institute’s financial support, especially from IRCC, which enables us to pursue our passion for rocketry. Tech exhibitions like the R&D Tech Expo and Techfest provide platforms to showcase our team, connect with industry experts, and elevate our success. We deeply appreciate the Institute’s crucial role in facilitating our growth and are grateful for their unwavering support.

The Dean ACR Newsletter is sent out to our 60,000+ alumni community. What would you like to say to the alumni who will read this interview? How can they be a part of this journey?

Having accomplished notable milestones, we recognize that this is just the beginning of our journey, and there is so much more ahead of us. To that end, we seek support from our esteemed alumni. We welcome any form of assistance, whether it be in the form of financial contribution, logistical support, sharing knowledge and expertise in the field, or even connecting us with relevant individuals or companies. We want to tell our alumni that their support will play a crucial role in helping us reach new heights. So we request them to come forward and join us on this incredible venture. Together, we can soar beyond the limits of what we can achieve and make a lasting impact in the field of rocketry.

What are your hopes and desires for the team moving forward?

Moving forward, our goal is to continuously improve and push the boundaries of rocket engineering. We aim to develop more powerful rockets by creating our advanced propulsion system, moving away from using commercially available ones. We also want to reach even higher altitudes by optimizing the design of the rocket’s structure and implementing an improved recovery system. To enhance the capabilities of our rockets, we plan to develop a more advanced flight computer and carry more sophisticated payloads that could carry out experiments while in flight.

Apart from the Spaceport America Cup 2024, we are also focused on participating in prestigious competitions like the LASC (Latin American Space Challenge) and exploring other similar opportunities. We aim to inspire and foster a passion for rocketry among fellow students in our institute. We want to provide them with better resources and opportunities to contribute to this exciting field. We are very enthusiastic about the future and hope to see the Institute buzzing with conversations about rocketry. Our ultimate aim is to elevate our team to new heights and achieve greater milestones each day.

As we bid adieu to this enterprising group of determined innovators, the journey of IIT Bombay’s Rocket Team stands as a testament to the power of collaborative teamwork, ingenuity, and the limitless possibilities that arise when brilliant minds come together with a shared dream. As these young and ambitious students continue to reach for the stars, their extraordinary achievements will undoubtedly serve as an inspiration for generations to come. Surely, they will ignite a blazing trail of scientific exploration and innovation that will leave a significant mark on the future of space exploration.

We cannot wait for what the future holds for IIT Bombay’s Rocket Team and we wish them the very best moving forward.