Satish Dhawan Space Centre or SHAR at Sriharikota is the Spaceport of India. One of the lead centres of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is reportedly getting a new facility which will give a boost to its launching capability. A report in Times of India said that the launch pad centre at SHAR will get a new vehicle assembly building by the end of 2017. This will be the second such establishment at the centre. The TOI report quoted Isro chairman A S Kiran Kumar as saying that the space agency faced a “bottleneck” because there was only one building for vehicle assembling, but now the new facility will be used parallelly for the purpose. SHAR, one of the world’s best spaceports, helps national and international customers in launch vehicle and satellite missions in areas like remote sensing, communication, navigation and other scientific purposes.
This ISRO centre was earlier known as SHAR based on the name Sriharikota High Altitude Range. It was renamed as Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR on September 5, 2002, in the memory of Prof Satish Dhawan, former Chairman of ISRO. The origins of SDSC SHAR goes back to the 1960s. The great visionary Dr Vikram A Sarabhai had embarked upon space research activities in India when he said that “we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society”. The centre was created to venture on the indigenous development of satellites and their launch vehicles. A decision was taken to set up a rocket launch station on the East Coast of India, a place distant from populated areas. Additionally, Sriharikota was an ideal location because of good launch azimuth corridor and was near to the equator.
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The centre is a small island in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. It was selected in 1969 as a rocket launch station for India. It finally started its operation on October 9, 1971, when Rohini 125 was launched. From then till now, facilities at the centre have expanded a lot. The SHAR facility now consists of two launch pads, with the second built in 2005.
India’s lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1 was launched from the centre in 2008. The first Mars orbiter Mangalyaan was also launched from the centre in the year 2013, which was successfully placed into Mars orbit in 2014. ISRO is reportedly even working for a launch pad at SHAR, aimed at human space flight missions in the future.