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Kulasekarapattinam Spaceport


Prelims: Science & Tech. (Important space Missions), Kulasekarapattinam Spacesport, Circular and Elliptical Orbits, Small Satellite Launch vehicle

Mains: General Studies-III, Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.

Why in the News ?

The Prime Minister recently laid the foundation stone for a new spaceport at Kulasekarapattinam in southern Tamil Nadu.

Source: IE 

📌 FYI on Prelims

Difference between Circular and Elliptical Orbits

  • Elliptical Orbits:
    • Mostly objects such as satellites and spacecrafts are put in elliptical orbits only temporarily.
    • They are then either pushed up to circular orbits at a greater height or the acceleration is increased until the trajectory changes from an ellipse to a hyperbola and the spacecraft escapes the gravity of the Earth in order to move further into space — for example, to the Moon or Mars or further away.
  • Circular Orbits:
    • Satellites that orbit the Earth are mostly placed in circular orbits.
    • One reason is that if the satellite is used for imaging the Earth, it is easier if it has a fixed distance from the Earth.
    • If the distance keeps changing as in an elliptical orbit, keeping the cameras focused can become complicated.
Kulasekarapattinam Spaceport
Kulasekarapattinam Spaceport


  • Kulasekarapattinam Spaceport

    • Location: It is a new spaceport coming up at Kulasekarapattinam, a coastal hamlet near the temple town of Tiruchendur in Thoothukudi district in southern Tamil Nadu.
    • It will be second after the space agency’s existing Satish Dhawan Space Centre, founded in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota in 1971, with two launch pads.
    • It will focus on the launch of Small Satellite Launch Vehicles (SSLVs) on a commercial basis.
    • It will house 35 facilities, including a launch pad, rocket integration facilities, ground range and checkout facilities, and a mobile launch structure (MLS) with checkout computers.
    • It would have the capacity to launch 24 satellites per year using a mobile launch structure.
    • Spread over 2,350 acres, the Kulasekarapatnam spaceport will help save fuel for small rocket launches as the port can launch rockets directly south over the Indian Ocean without requiring crossing landmasses. 
      • This is unlike the existing launch site at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, which adds more fuel requirements for launching into a polar orbit as rockets need to follow a curved path to the south to avoid Sri Lanka’s landmass.
    • It is estimated to cost Rs. 986 crore.
  • Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV)

    • It is a three stage Launch Vehicle configured with three Solid Propulsion Stages and a liquid propulsion-based Velocity Trimming Module (VTM) as a terminal stage.
      • SSLV is 2m in diameter and 34m in length with a lift-off weight of around 120 tonnes.
      • SSLV is capable of launching 500kg satellites in 500km planar orbit from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC).
    • Key Features:
      • Low cost,
      • Low turn-around time,
      • Flexibility in accommodating multiple satellites,
      • Launch demand feasibility,
      • Minimal launch infrastructure requirements, etc
    • Significance:
      • The Era of small satellites:
        • Earlier, the bigger satellite payloads were given importance, but as the sector grew many players emerged like Businesses, government agencies, universities, and laboratories began to send satellites.
        • Mostly all of them fall in the category of small satellites.
      • The Rise in Demand:
        • The demand for the launch of small satellites has increased at a rapid pace in the last eight to ten years, due to the ever-growing need for space-based data, communication, surveillance, and commerce.
      • Saves cost:
        • Satellite manufacturers and operators do not have the luxury of waiting months for space on a rocket or paying exorbitant trip charges.
        • Therefore, Organizations are increasingly developing a constellation of satellites in space.
        • Projects like SpaceX’s Starlink and One Web are assembling a constellation of hundreds of satellites.


Prelims: PYQ/FAQ

Q. With reference to India’s satellite launch vehicles, consider the following statements: (2018)

  1. PSLVs launch the satellites useful for Earth resources monitoring whereas GSLVs are designed mainly to launch communication satellites.
  2. Satellites launched by PSLV appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky, as viewed from a particular location on Earth.
  3. GSLV Mk III is a four-staged launch vehicle with the first and third stages using solid rocket motors; and the second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

A) 1 only
B) 2 and 3
C) 1 and 2
D) 3 only

Ans: a. 1 only


  • PSLV is the third generation launch vehicle of India. It is the first Indian launch vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages. It is used mainly for delivering various satellites in Low Earth Orbits, particularly the Indian Remote Sensing series of satellites. It can take up to 1,750 kg of payload to Sun-Synchronous Polar Orbits of 600 km altitude.
  • GSLV is designed mainly to deliver Indian National Satellite System, or INSAT, which is a series of multipurpose geo-stationary satellites launched by ISRO to fulfil the needs of telecommunications, broadcasting, meteorology, and search and rescue operations. It places satellites to the highly elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). Hence, statement 1 is correct.
  • The satellites in the geosynchronous orbits appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky. Hence, statement 2 is not correct.
  • GSLV-Mk III is a fourth generation, three stage launch vehicle with four liquid strap-ons. The indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS), which is flight proven, forms the third stage of GSLV Mk III. It is capable to lift 4-5 tonne satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). The rocket has three-stages with two solid motor strap-ons (S200), a liquid propellant core stage (L110) and a cryogenic stage (C-25). Hence, statement 3 is not correct. Therefore, option (a) is the correct answer.

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