India Builds A New Spaceport For SSLV Launches

India will build a new spaceport dedicated to the small-lift SSLV. On Feb. 28, 2024 Indian PM Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone in KulaSekarapattinam

On Feb. 28, 2024, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of the new space center located in KulaSekarapattinam in the southern region of Tamil Nadu.

“2.000 acres spaceport will be realized in Tuticorin”. Credit: Tuticorin Updates
“2.000 acres spaceport will be realized in Tuticorin”. Credits: Tuticorin Updates

It will be a spaceport dedicated exclusively to the launch of small-lift SSLV vehicles, accessible to private contractors as well. It will be built on an area of 2000 acres equal to approximately 8 km2.


Go back to where it all began

The new KulaSekarapattinam spaceport is quite close to India’s first launch facility: Thiruvananthapuram. From there the group formed by Vikram Sarabhai who formed the core of the future ISRO launched the first Arcas and Rohini sounding rockets.

The reasons for a new spaceport in KulaSekarapattinam. Credit: India Times
The reasons for a new spaceport in KulaSekarapattinam. Credits: India Times

The choice, which has a great romantic impact, is dictated above all by two factors: the proximity to the equator which allows for less energy expenditure during the launch, and the possibility of carrying out launches into polar orbit without the so-called dogleg maneuver, done to avoid direct overflight of Sri Lanka and thus mitigating the risk of potential debris falling onto the island.


SSLV: the light and economical launcher

The Small Satellite Launch Vehicle is a launch vehicle developed from India’s first orbital launcher SLV.

SSLV launch from Sriharikota. Credit: ISRO
SSLV launch from Sriharikota. Credits: ISRO

It made its maiden flight at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota on Aug. 7, 2022. It is a solid-fuel three-stage launcher with a low orbit (LEO) payload capacity of 500 kg which drops to 300 kg for sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). It has currently made two flights, of which only the second was successful. Its strong point, especially for private commercial launches, is that of having a low cost due to the simplicity of the launch structure, and a short period between one launch and the next. It is positioned in the same class as the American launcher Electron.

Four launches of SSLV are planned for 2024.


The future of Sriharikota

The Satish Dhawan Space Center will be used exclusively for the launches of heavier class rockets such as the GSLV and the LV Mk-III, especially given the crewed launches, entrusted to the human-rated version of the latter as part of the Gaganyaan program.

From Sriharikota Spaceport will also start the new generation of launchers completely based on reusable launchers that are actually under development.

In short, Vikram Sarabhai’s dream has become a fantastic reality that has launched his country among the great space powers.

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Roberto Paradiso

Roberto Paradiso

Banker with a passion for cosmonautics, he tells in his blog, "Le storie di Kosmonautika" and in the book "Noi abbiamo usato le matite!" the history and stories of the Soviet and Russian space program and the people who made it.

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