The Centre has approved the establishment of a new spaceport in Kulasekarapattinam, Tamil Nadu, for carrying out the launches of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicles (SSLV) developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

The Indian Space Policy 2023 has the provision for utilisation of a spaceport for carrying out launch activities by Non-Government Entities (NGEs), subject to technical feasibility and range safety constraints.

The Policy has been approved and released into public domain. The Policy opens up the sector for enhanced participation of NGEs across the entire value chain of the space economy, while clearly delineating the roles of various stakeholders like IN-SPACe, ISRO, NewSpace India Limited and Department of Space.

Singh said that the the Government has set up the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) as a single-window agency for promotion and authorisation of space activities. The budget allocations for IN-SPACe are 2023-24 ₹95 crore; 2022-23 ₹33 crore and 2021-22 ₹10 crore.

LIGO-India project approved

The minister also informed that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory – India (LIGO-India) project has been approved by the Government of India at an estimated cost of ₹2,600 crore, with Department of Atomic Energy as the Lead Agency. He said, after completion of the project, the LIGO-India will be operated as a national facility for detecting Gravitation Waves and Research in related areas of Astronomy.

Kulasekarapattinam will be used by private companies to launch small satellites into orbit.

On the new launch pad that ISRO is building at Kulasekarapattinam in Thoothukudi district along the coast in Tamil Nadu, SIRO Chairman S Somanath said that nearly 99 per cent of the 2,000 acres has been transferred to ISRO by the Tamil Nadu government.

“It takes at least two years to become fully functional after the commencement of the construction work. However, we will be able to conduct some sub-orbital launches there,” he added.

Space Industrial Park

The Tamil Nadu government is planning to set up Space Industrial Park and Propellants Park near Thoothukudi to take advantage of the Centre’s move to build the Kulasekarapattinam spaceport.

Srinath Ravichandran, Co-founder and CEO of Agnikul Cosmos, in November told businessline that Kulasekarapattinam is a sweet spot for launching small satellites. “There is no land between that place and Antarctica, it’s a beautiful belt for launches. The rule is that you cannot fly over a land mass if you are not in orbit. By the time you are flying over Antarctica, you are in orbit.”

A cargo truck and four caravans are all that are required to launch small satellites, and Kulasekarapattinam is an ideal spot, he said.