Sriharikota is located in the Tirupati District of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is the only launchpad available to launch satellites from the country. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) uses it to launch PSLV, GSLV, and the recently developed SSLV. It has been the launchpad for all the historic missions of ISRO such as Chandrayaan, and Mangalyaan to name a few.
Access to Sriharikota is restricted to the public. Entry is granted only for industrial visits. Limited entry is granted to witness spectacular launches from the viewers’ gallery. In this blog, we shall explore the importance of this launch site and its launch pads.
To enter this heavily guarded place, an institution needs to fill in their details and their reason for visiting. Security checks and obtaining the necessary permissions need to be completed. The visiting institution will then be allowed to enter the main premises of the launchpad.
A guide will be assigned to the visiting institution and will be taken to a theater. Here, a small introductory talk is given and a video about the Sriharikota is shown. The belongings must be kept in the luggage room. Cameras and other video-taking equipment are strictly prohibited. It will be a criminal offense if the rule is not followed.
After following the necessary procedures and security checks, you will be allowed to enter the main facilities of Sriharikota.
Mission Control Centre:
This is the driving center of Sriharikota as all the mission-related monitoring activities are done here. From monitoring the progress and development of launch operations to ensuring the success of the launch of payload, are all done in MCC.
About a decade ago, the project directors and head scientists of ISRO were limited from operating much more developed and highly efficient launch vehicles and their payloads. Hence there was a need to modernize the Control Centre in Sriharikota. This need was met by the inauguration of the Mission Control Centre in 2012.
The MCC has state-of-the-art facilities which met the requirements for future missions of ISRO. The first launch of GSLV-MkIII was operated from the MCC. From then onwards, all the missions of ISRO were monitored and operated from the MCC.
The launch operations include the pre-countdown and countdown phases. The operation is deemed a success when the payload reaches its designated orbit. All the ground stations in Sriharikota are linked to the MCC for voice, video, and data transmission. The launch preparations are monitored using a multi-channel CCTV system that connects various facilities in Sriharikota. The important facilities at the Mission Control Centre include Mission Control Hall, Launch Control Centre, VIP Gallery, Mission Executives rooms, etc.
There are two launchpads in Sriharikota:-
The First Launch Pad
The First Launch Pad was commissioned in 1993. It is exclusively used to launch Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). It is one of two orbital launch pads in Sriharikota. The first launch from this pad occurred on 20 September 1993. It was the maiden flight of the PSLV and it carried the IRS-1E satellite.
The First Launch Pad is under major expansion developments with PIF (PSLV Integration Facilities) project worth ₹475 crores. Upon completion, the first launch pad is expected to cater to around 15 launches per year.
The Second Launch Pad
The Second Launch Pad was designed and commissioned during the period March 1999 to December 2003. It cost about ₹400 crores at that time. The second launch pad with associated facilities was built later on and became operational on 5 May 2005 with the launching of PSLV-C6. It is used to launch PSLVs, Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicles(GLSVs), and GSLV Mark III. The launch pad will also support the launch of India’s first crewed space mission, Gaganyaan.
The first launch from the pad occurred on 5 May 2005 and was of a PSLV carrying the CARTOSAT-1 and HAMSAT satellites. India’s 1st Moon Mission, Chandrayan-I was launched on 22 October 2008 from this launch pad. Its follow-up mission Chandrayaan-2 was also launched from here on 22 July 2019.
Apart from these, Sriharikota also has the facilities for static testing of solid motors and launch vehicle integration. For communication purposes, it has a range of operations comprising telemetry, tracking, and command network.
A facility that is dedicated to space enthusiasts to understand the evolution of the Indian Space Program. It accounts for all details from the founding of ISRO to its latest launch.
The museum is divided into different sections covering different aspects of ISRO and the progress of the country’s space program. One of the most important parts of the museum is the miniature models. It contains the models of all the launch vehicles and satellites. Every miniature model has a brief description of itself. Other parts of the museum include a brief description of engine models, the history of ISRO, and many more.
Sriharikota has a lot more potential to meet the requirements of ISRO. It is undergoing rapid developments to increase the frequency of launches. The Government of India is also providing sufficient funds for R&D purposes. With this rapid growth, ISRO is on track to become a top space organization in the world.