India lays groundwork for new spaceport dedicated to small launches

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The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been given the go-ahead to build a new spaceport in Tamil Nadu, with which it aims to help private players launch small rockets into space using less fuel.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday laid the foundation stone for the second spaceport, located on an island named Kulasekharapatnam off the southern state of Tamil Nadu. It will be the second after the space agency’s Satish Dhawan Space Center, founded in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, in 1971, with two launch pads.

The spaceport will be dedicated to launching smaller launch vehicles and will be ready in about two years, ISRO Chairman S Somanath said on the sidelines of the event in Tamil Nadu. Smaller rockets are cheaper to launch and, like Rocket Lab’s Electron, have shown that they can provide a reliable and affordable way to get to space without sharing a ride with multiple other payloads.

Even though the new spaceport is not ready for private launches, ISRO on Wednesday evening (local time) launched its two-stage Rohini (RH – 200) sounding rocket from Kulasekharapatnam using a mobile launch pad to mark the development.

Spanning 2,350 acres, the Kulasekharapatnam Spaceport will save fuel for small rocket launches, as the port can launch rockets directly south over the Indian Ocean without having to cross the continental lands. This is different from the existing launch site at the Satish Dhawan Space Center, which requires more fuel for launch into a polar orbit, as the rockets must follow a curved trajectory south to avoid the landmass of Sri Lanka.

ISRO Kulasekarapattinam Spaceport Map

Image credits: GDP of India

The new spaceport is being developed with an investment of $119 million (Indian Rupees 986 crore) and is designed to conduct 24 launches per year using a mobile launch structure.

In recent years, India has actively increased its participation in space developments. The South Asian nation has around 190 space technology startups that offer a variety of solutions to customers around the world, including launchers, hyperspectral imaging And space situational awareness, among others. ISRO is also working rigorously to increase the country’s presence in the global space ecosystem. Last year, the space agency attracted worldwide attention for successfully land your lunar spacecraft on the south pole of the moon And launch of its coronagraphy spacecraft Aditya-L1 to observe the upper atmosphere of the Sun. Additionally, ISRO has partnered with NASA joins the Artemis Accords and work on a joint mission to the International Space Station.

Earlier this week, Modi announcement four elected astronauts, namely Group Captain Prashanth Balakrishnan Nair, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, Group Captain Angad Pratap and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla, for the country’s first manned spacecraft mission. It will be like thisplanned for 2025. This three-day mission will set the pace for sending its first astronaut on the Moon in 2040.

Last year, India presented its space policy to detail the guidelines for private participation. The country has also recently updated its foreign direct investment policy with higher limits for foreign investment in space developments.

“This facility will be instrumental in meeting the increasing frequency of launches from ISRO and the growing private space industry in the years to come. We believe that India’s strategic investment in additional spaceports will enable the country to significantly enhance its launch service capabilities, fostering greater international collaboration and strengthening its status as a global space power,” said AK Bhatt , director general of the Indian Space Association.



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