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Explained: Why ISRO chose Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu as the second spaceport


Bengaluru, Jan 02: The ISRO on Wednesday had announced that work on the country's third lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3 was on and the launch may shift to next year.

With the ISRO is gearing up for more launch activities in the coming years, the work on India's second spaceport in the small coastal hamlet of Kulashekhrapattinam in the Thuthukudi district of Tamil Nadu has already begun. Thoothukudi is about 600 km southeast of Chennai.

Explained: Why ISRO chose Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu as the second spaceport

The second spaceport is spread across 2,300 acres in size, but smaller than the country's first spaceport Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, about 90 km northeast of Chennai from where launches its PSLV and GSLV rockets are launched.

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Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota, has the facilities for solid propellant processing, static testing of solid motors, launch vehicle integration and launch operations, range operations comprising telemetry, tracking and command network and mission control centre. The Centre has two launch pads from where the rocket launching operations of PSLV and GSLV are carried out.

Its first launchpad was decommissioned once the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle programme ended in 1994.

However, considering the increased number of launches by the space agency, the second spaceport announced.

The second spaceport at Thoothukudi is expected to provide an important advantage to ISRO's upcoming Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), which is a smaller counterpart of the PSLV.

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So why Thoothukudi?

The space agency ISRO preferred its second spaceport at Thoothukudi, located on the east coast and near the equator for two reasons.

The Earth's rotation provides a speed boost to rockets launched in the eastward direction and headed for an equatorial orbit around the planet. And if there is a failure during the launch, then the debris from an explosion would fall directly into the Bay of Bengal instead of land, which would have less impact on damaging property or taking lives.

Sivan had also said that the new location is ideal for launching smaller satellites of less than 500kg in the sun-synchronous orbit.

Another advantage of the new spaceport include straight southward launches as the current rockets have to be manoeuvred around Sri Lanka.

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Also, instead of transporting the second and fourth stages to Sriharikota from Mahendragiri, it would be easier to shift them to the launch pad if it is built in Kulasekarapattinam, which is around 100 km away.

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    The proposed Tuticorin spaceport will ideally be the third launch centre of India in addition to Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh and Thumba equatorial rocket launching station in Kerala. However, no big rockets have been launched from Thumba recently.

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