Isro's launch capacity will get boost with new facility at Sriharikota by year-end.
The satellite launch capability of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will soon get a boost as the country's solitary launchpad centre at Sriharikota-based Satish Dhawan Space Centre will get a second vehicle assembly building by the end of this year.
Talking to TOI, Isro chairman A S Kiran Kumar said, "Because of just one vehicle assembly building, final assembling of components (stages of rockets) was a bottleneck. Therefore, the second vehicle assembly building is being constructed. The work on the building is nearly complete and by the end of this year, it will become operational. With the new assembly facility, we will be able to assemble parallelly the launch vehicle and bring it to existing two launchpads. It will thus help boost the launch capability of the Sriharikota centre."
On planning to build a third launchpad at Sriharikota High Altitude Range (SHAR), a spindle-shaped island on the east coast of Andhra Pradesh, the Isro chairman said, "We have not reached the limit of two launchpads. With the new assembly facility, we will be able to assemble more vehicles. Once we are able to assemble more rockets but not able to launch them even by reducing launch timings, then we will start work on the third launchpad. But for that, we first need (government's) approval. So, we are gradually working to eliminate all bottlenecks to increase the frequency of launches." With the new facility, Isro can achieve launch 12 rockets in a year from the seven at present.
The Indian space agency has achieved several milestones in the first half of this year when it launched 104 satellites in one go on February 15, then the launch of the country's heaviest rocket GSLV Mk III on June 5 and thereafter the launch of 31 satellites, including with Cartosat-2 satellite, in one go on June 23 from Sriharikota. On missions planned in the second half of this year, the Isro chairman said, "We are trying for 3 to 4 launches by the year-end. The replacement satellite for the first navigational satellite IRNSS-1A will be launched by the end of this month." The need for replacing IRNSS-1A, which is one of the seven satellites constituting India's navigation system or desi GPS, was felt after three atomic clocks (meant to provide precise locational data) of the satellite stopped working.
On big missions early next year, Kiran Kumar said, "The launch of the Chandrayaan-2 mission and the second developmental flight of GSLV Mk III D2 is due in the first half of 2018."
With the increased frequency of foreign satellite launches, Isro can rake in big moolah. With Rs 230 crore earned through foreign satellite launches in 2015-16, Isro's existing share is just 0.6% of the global launch services market estimated to be worth Rs 38,000 crore.