The Government of India is working on setting up a second rocket launch station. The space station will be situated in the outskirt region of Kulasekarapatanam in Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu. The Indian Government has proposed 961 hectares of land for the new space center. India currently has one rocket launch port at the Sriharikota island in Andhra Pradesh. Sriharikota island houses two launch pads.Embed from Getty Images
The Government of India stated that the new space station would be open for private sector firms as well, as many start up companies had expressed their interest in the space industry. Indian Government emphasized that opening up the space center for private players would enable the government to develop several space subsystems in the country. This would prove helpful in building more number of satellites and launch vehicles. According to India’s Government, the global space sector is estimated to be worth around 350 Billion Dollars, and India’s share is less than three percent. Thus, empowering private sector companies in the space industry becomes much more critical.
The Tamil Nadu government had started the work on the land acquisition process in 2019. The new space center would be used to launch small satellite launch vehicles ( SSLV). The rockets launched from the new space station would weigh not more than 500 kgs.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has explained the strategic importance of the new space station. According to ISRO, the rockets launched from Sriharikota island have to take a dogleg maneuver towards the southeast direction to avoid flying over Sri Lanka. The rocket is then forced to make a quick maneuver back to the original trajectory. This maneuver is necessary to protect Sri Lanka from getting impacted by rocket debris.
This swerves around Sri Lanka consumes quite an amount of fuel, indirectly eating up into the rocket payload capacity.
Hence, ISRO has highlighted that building a space station at Kulasekarapatanam is extremely important as the rockets launched from this space station can avoid this maneuver. There is no landmass in between would provide a direct trajectory for the rockets in the southward direction. The spaceport in Kulasekarapatanam also much closer to the equator, making it an ideal location to launch satellites to the polar orbit.