ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) is set to come up with the country's second spaceport in Tamil Nadu's Kulasekarapattinam and this launchpad will be having a strategic advantage over the launch pads in Sriharikota. With the new spaceport, small satellite launch vehicles (SSLV) can fly straight to the south pole without burning fuel to swerve around Sri Lanka on the way. On Saturday, ISRO chief K Sivan had said the land acquisition for India's second rocket launch centre at Kulasekarapattinam in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin is progressing and further work will progress after this is done.
With the Central government announcing the opening up of the space sector for the private sector, Sivan, who is also the Secretary in the Department of Space, said many start-up companies have expressed interest in the space sector while big corporates are yet to come to the front.
During polar missions, big launch vehicles follow a trajectory where they fly in the southeast direction after lift-off from Sriharikota to avoid flying over Sri Lanka, ISRO chief said. Thereafter, the rocket takes a sharp manoeuvre and proceeds towards the south pole.
ISRO's Sriharikota launchpad vs second spaceport in Kulasekarapattinam
- The dogleg manoeuvre that results in the rocket deviating from a straight flight path requires more fuel that eats into the rocket’s payload capacity. When launched from Kulasekarapattinam, this manoeuvre is not required thereby saving the rocket’s fuel as well as improving the payload capability.
- When rockets are launched from Kulasekarapattinam, this manoeuvre is not required as there is no landmass along the flight path in the southward direction. In polar missions, the PSLV from Sriharikota must perform a dogleg manoeuvre to avoid flying over Sri Lanka, to protect it from rocket debris.
- The new spaceport is expected to launch smaller satellites weighing 500kg into low-earth orbit less than 2,000km above the earth’s surface in an SSLV. The Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, spread over 145sqkm, has two launch pads for PSLV and GSLV flights.
On the ground at Kulasekarapattinam, ISRO is one step closer to setting up the spaceport, as local officials expect the Tamil Nadu government to pass an order that will allow ISRO officials to enter the property and start work.
Tamil Nadu had begun the land acquisition process for the spaceport in December 2019. Around 2,300 acres of land has been earmarked across three villages — Mathavankurichi, Padukapathu and Pallakurichi for setting up the space station.
India presently has one rocket port at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh with two launch pads.
On the rationale for opening up the space sector for the private sector, Sivan said the global space sector market size is about $350 billion and India's share is less than three per cent and the share will not improve if the ISRO remains the sole player.