Sriharikota Space Center (SHAR)
The Sriharikota Space Center (SHAR) is under the jurisdiction of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Operations commenced in October 1971 Originally utilized for the launch of sounding rockets, the site has been subsequently expanded to become India's prime space center including a launch pad facility for SLVs (Satellite Launch Vehicle), technical center for rocket testing and assembly, and a range of other facilities for launch control, satellite tracking and remote sensing.
The first Rohini sounding rocket was launched from SHAR in October 1970. The first satellite put aloft from the site was the Rohini 1A engineering satellite aboard an SLV-3 rocket on August 19, 1979. Over the ensuing period to 1983, three more SLV/Rohini launches were carried out. From 1987, launches of SROSS (Stretched Rohini Satellite Series) earth observation satellite were commenced from SHAR aboard improved ASLVs (Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle) with additional booster capability. From 1996, IRS (Indian Remote-sensing Satellite) launches have begun from the center using PSLVs (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle).
SDSC SHAR has the necessary infrastructure for launching satellite into low earth orbit, polar orbit and geostationary transfer orbit. The launch complexes provide complete support for vehicle assembly, fuelling, checkout and launch operations. Apart from these, it has facilities for launching sounding rockets meant for studying the earth's atmosphere.
The individual stages of PSLV or GSLV, their subsystems and the spacecraft are prepared and checked out in separate facilities before they are sent to launch pad for integration A-76-meter tall mobile service tower (MST) facilitates the vertical integration of the vehicle. The foldable working platforms of MST provide access to the vehicle at various elevations. A massive launch pedestal, made up of steel plates, acts as the base on which the vehicle is integrated.
The spacecraft is integrated to the vehicle in a clean room, set up inside the MST. However, in the case of GSLV, the spacecraft is interfaced with the payload adopter and then encapsulated in the heat shield in the preparation facility itself. The encapsulated assembly is moved to the launch pad for integrating with the 3rd stage of GSLV. The umbilical tower houses the feed lines for liquid propellants and high-pressure gases, checkout cables, and chilled air duct for supplying cool air to the satellite and equipment bay.
In order to provide redundant facilities for launching the operational PSLVs and GSLVs and also to have quick turn around time for launch, an additional launch pad with associated facilities was constructed. It was designed to accommodate, both the present PSLVs and GSLVs, and also the future launch vehicle configurations such as GSLV-MkIII. As per the integrate, transfer and launch (ITL) concept, based on which the new launch pad and the associated facilities are designed, the entire vehicle is assembled and checked-out on a mobile pedestal in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and then moved in vertical position to the launch pad on a roll track.
Other facilities include, Solid Stage Assembly Building (SSAB) connected to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) by a rail track, Technical Complex-2 (TC2), Spacecraft Preparation Facility, Range Instrumentation facilities comprising tracking, telemetry and tele-command systems.
SDSC SHAR had two operation launch pads providing launch support for the satellites. There has been an increasing demand for launching of satellites from Sriharikota. SDSC SHAR realized the first launch pad with Integration on Pad (IOP) concept in the year 1990 to support the PSLV programme. Facilities were further augmented in a limited way to support the initial flights of GSLV MkII vehicle. Even though the operational GSLV MkII vehicles can be launched from this facility, there are certain operational / safety constraints. Launch pad occupancy will be around 75 days for the GSLV MkII flights followed by 20 days for pad refurbishment may limit the number of launchings per year from this pad. In case both the vehicles, PSLV & GSLV are to be scheduled from this pad, it calls for change over time, additionally, to meet cryo stage / strapon dependent modifications.
Thus a Second Launch Pad (SLP) with Intregrate, Transfer and Launch (ITL) concept to reduce the pad occupancy time to about 10 days was planned and realized in four years timeframe (Year 2000-2004). The launch pad is with state of art features and capable to handle larger / heavier launch vehicles like LVM3. With the addition of the SLP, redundancy in launch pads is ensured for PSLV vehicles. As the heavier vehicles like GSLV MkIII cannot be launched from first launch pad, they are confined only to SLP, thereby without any redundancy to meet any exigency.
With the thrust on increased self reliance on build various satellites matching the ever increasing Nation’s demand and launching them by Indian vehicles, number of satellite Launch vehicles (PSLV, GSLV MkII & LVM3 ) to be launched from SDSC SHAR goes up by about 30%. In order to cope-up with the increased launch frequency of PSLV, GSLV and the advanced class of vehicles, it is a must to have a new launch pad (Third Launch Pad) at Sriharikota.
This pad is needed mainly to (a) Support the increased launch frequency of both PSLV & GSLV class of vehicles (b) Provide active redundancy for the SLP to launch GSLV class of vehicles (c) To support the launching of human rated vehicles with associated crew handling facilities (d) To meet the requirements of next generation launch vehicles viz., Unified Launch Vehicles. Since the production facilities for the heavy solid propellant boosters are located at Sriharikota, TLP is proposed in Sriharikota island to avoid the heavy boosters transportation. Also, the built-up infrastructure for sub-systems preparation at Sriharikota can be used gainfully. TLP configurations are worked out, reviewed and cleared by Technical Review Committee (TRC) of SDSC SHAR. Preliminary project report is prepared and same is being submitted for approvals
The Union Cabinet approved on 12 September 2013 for realization of Second Vehicle Assembly Building at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota (SDSC-SHAR) at an estimated cost of Rs. 363.95 crore with a foreign exchange component of Rs. 7 crore. The Second Vehicle Assembly Building will provide enhanced launch frequency of PSLV and GSLV by facilitating parallel integration operations. It will also provide redundancy to existing Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) for integration of GSLV MK-III and also as a prime integration facility for third launch pad and future general launch vehicles. Project teams formed by the Department of Space at SDSC-SHAR will realize the systems through the contractor by floating tenders package wise. An engineering consultant will be engaged to carry out configuration development, detailed engineering and preparation of tender documents by dividing the total work into various packages. The SVAB is targeted for realization within 42 months.
The second vehicle assembly building in SDSC SHAR Sriharikota was dedicated to the nation during 2019 for increasing the launch frequency. To enhance outreach activity, a launch viewing gallery too was operationalised in Sriharikota to facilitate live viewing of launches by the public with a capacity to accommodate 5,000 people.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has earmarked 2,300 acres of land in Thoothukudi district, Tamil Nadu, to set up its second launch centre after the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota. The country’s premier space agency is in the process of acquiring the land for a yet-to-be-named new launch centre. ISRO chairman K Sivan on 01 January 2020 said that the new centre was part of ISRO’s capacity-building exercise. The new launch centre will be initially meant for missions involving launching small satellites and small satellite launch vehicles (SSLVs).
“Apart from the space port at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, the land acquisition for the second one has been initiated in Thoothukudi district, and the land acquisition activities are in progress,” said Sivan. Explaining the significance of the location, he said, “It is mainly to get the advantage of southward launches, especially for SSLVs (Small Satellite Launch Vehicle).” The SDSC SHAR is mainly for eastward launches for the benefit of rocket propulsion to get the spacecraft to the intended location in space in the shortest time possible. However, SSLVs would require a southward direction for placing small satellites in the south of the Indian peninsula, for which Thoothukudi has been found to be an ideal location.
He, however, said that ISRO was not planning to wait for the new space centre to be up and ready to launch small satellites. “We will be launching small satellites from SDSC SHAR in Sriharikota by the end of this year and then shift operations to the new centre in Thoothukudi when it is ready. Initially, we will launch small satellites but subsequently we will look at launching bigger missions from there too,” he said.
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