Satish Dhawan Space Centre

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Coordinates: 13°43′11.78″N 80°13′49.53″E / 13.7199389°N 80.2304250°E / 13.7199389; 80.2304250

Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC)
Indian Space Research Organisation Logo.svg
Agency overview
Formed1 October 1971; 48 years ago (1971-10-01)
JurisdictionGovernment of India
HeadquartersSriharikota, Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, India
13°43′12″N 80°13′49″E / 13.72000°N 80.23028°E / 13.72000; 80.23028
EmployeesUnknown (2008)
Annual budgetSee the budget of ISRO
Agency executive
  • A.Rajarajan, Director
Parent agencyISRO
WebsiteISRO SHAR home page
A map view of Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) or Sriharikota Range (SHAR)[1] is a rocket launch centre operated by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is located in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Sriharikota Range was renamed in 2002 after ISRO's former chairman Satish Dhawan.

SDSC's current director is Arumugam Rajarajan.[2][3] He took over from S. Pandian in July 2019.


Sriharikota island was chosen in 1969 for a satellite launching station. The centre became operational in 1971 when an RH-125 sounding rocket was launched.[4] The first attempted launch of an orbital satellite, Rohini 1A aboard a Satellite's Launch Vehicle, took place on 10 August 1979, but due to a failure in thrust vectoring of the rocket's second stage, the satellite's orbit decayed on 19 August 1979.[5] SHAR was named as 'Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR' (SDSC), on 5 September 2002, in memory of Satish Dhawan, former Chairman of the ISRO.

The SHAR facility now consists of two launch pads, with the second built in 2005. The second launch pad was used for launches beginning in 2005 and is a universal launch pad, accommodating all of the launch vehicles used by ISRO. The two launch pads will allow multiple launches in a single year, which was not possible earlier. India's lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1 launched from the centre at 6:22 AM IST on 22 October 2008. India's first Mars orbiter Mangalyaan was launched from the centre on 5 November 2013, which was successfully placed into Mars orbit on 24 September 2014.

Initially under Indian Human Spaceflight Programme existing launch facilities will be augmented to meet the target of launching a crewed spacecraft called Gaganyaan.[6]


Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR) is located in Sriharikota, a spindle-shaped barrier island on the east coast of Andhra Pradesh. Features like a good launch azimuth corridor for various missions, nearness to the equator (benefiting eastward launches), and large uninhabited area for a safety zone make it an ideal spaceport.[citation needed]

SHAR covers a total area of about 145 km2 (56 sq mi) with a coastal length of 27 km (17 mi). Prior to its acquisition for ISRO by the Indian Government, it was a firewood plantation of Eucalyptus and Casuarina trees. This island is affected by both south-westerly and north-easterly monsoons, but heavy rains come only in October and November. Thus many clear days are available for out-door static tests and launchings.[7]

SHAR is linked to Sullurupeta by a road across Pulicat Lake. Sullurupeta has connectivity with other parts of India by Indian Railways and is on a National Highway 5 (India) that connects it to Chennai (about 83 km (52 mi) south) and Kolkata.[citation needed]

Launch history[edit]

Originally known as the Sriharikota Range (SHAR)[1] and later named after Satish Dhawan. It is India's primary orbital launch site to this day. First flight-test of 'Rohini-125', a small sounding rocket which took place on 9 October 1971 was the first ever rocket launch from SHAR.[8] Since then technical, logistic and administrative infrastructure have been enhanced. Together with the northerly Balasore Rocket Launching Station, the facilities are operated under the ISRO Range Complex (IREX) headquartered at SHAR.[9]

Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV)[edit]

The range became operational when three Rohini 125 sounding rockets were launched on 9 and 10 October 1971. Previously, India used Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS), at Thiruvananthapuram, on the south-western coast of India, to launch sounding rockets. The first test launch of the complete SLV-3 rocket occurred in August 1979 but it was only partially successful following a malfunction in the second-stage guidance system. SHAR facilities worked satisfactorily during the SLV-3 preparation and launch. On 18 July 1980 the SLV-3 successfully launched India's third satellite. Out of the four SLV launches from SHAR, two were successful.[citation needed]

Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV)[edit]

The ASLV orbital launcher was integrated vertically, beginning with motor and subassembly preparations in the Vehicle Integration Building (VIB) and completed on the pad within the 40 m tall Mobile Service Structure. The first ASLV launch from SHAR took place in 1987 and resulted in a failure. Eventually, out the four ASLV launches from 1987–94, only one was successful.[citation needed]

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)[edit]

The PSLV launch complex was commissioned during 1990. It has a 3,000 tonne, 76.5 m high Mobile Service Tower (MST) which provides the SP-3 payload clean room. The solid propellant motors for the PSLV are processed by SHAR, which also carries out launch operations. The first launch of the PSLV took place on 20 September 1993.[10]


The Centre has two operational orbital launch pads. SHAR is ISRO's satellite launching base and additionally provides launch facilities for the full range of Rohini sounding rockets. The Vehicle Assembly, Static Test and Evaluation Complex (VAST, previously STEX) and the Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant (SPROB) are located at SHAR for casting and testing solid motors. The site also has a Telemetry, Tracking, Range Instrumentation, & Control centre for Range Operation (RO), Liquid Propellant Storage and Servicing Facilities (LSSF), the Management Service Group and Sriharikota Common Facilities. The PSLV launch complex was commissioned in 1990. It has a 3,000 tonne, 76.5 m high Mobile Service Tower (MST) which provides the SP-3 payload clean room.[11]

The Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant (SPROB) processes large size propellant grains for the satellite launch vehicles. The Vehicle Assembly & Launching Facility (VALF), Solid Motor Preparation & Environmental Testing Facility (SMP&ETF) tests and qualifies different types of solid motor for launch vehicles. The control centre at SHAR houses computers and data processing, closed circuit television, real-time tracking systems and meteorological observation equipment. It is linked to eight radars located at Sriharikota and the five stations of ISRO's Telemetry, Tracking & Command Network (ISTRAC).[citation needed]

The propellant production plant produces composite solid propellant for rocket motors of ISRO using ammonium perchlorate (oxidiser), fine aluminium powder (fuel) and hydroxyl terminated polybutadiene (binder). The solid motors processed here include those for the first-stage booster motor of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) — a five segmented motor of 2.8 m diameter and 22 m length, weighing 160 tons with a thrust level of 450 tons.

Rocket motors and their subsystems have to be rigorously tested and evaluated on ground before they are declared flight worthy. The facilities at SDSC SHAR are used for testing solid rocket motors, both at ambient conditions and simulated high altitude conditions. Besides these, there are facilities for conducting vibration, shock, constant acceleration and thermal/humidity tests.

SDSC SHAR has infrastructure for launching satellites into low Earth orbit, polar orbit and geo-stationary transfer orbit. The launch complexes provide support for vehicle assembly, fueling, checkout and launch operations. The Centre also has facilities for launching sounding rockets for atmospheric studies. The mobile service tower, launch pad, preparation facilities for different launch stages & spacecraft, storage, transfer and servicing facilities for liquid propellants, etc., are the principal parts of the PSLV/GSLV launch complex.

For supporting the GSLV Mk III programme additional facilities were set up at SDSC. A new plant (SPP) is set up to process heavier class boosters with 200 tonnes of Solid propellant. The static test complex is being augmented for qualifying the S-200 booster. Other new facilities include a Solid Stage Assembly Building, Satellite Preparation and Filling Facility and Hardware Storage buildings. The existing liquid propellant and cryogenic propellant storage and filling systems, Propellant Servicing Facilities will also be augmented. The range instrumentation system will be enhanced further.[citation needed]

SDSC SHAR also has a S band Doppler weather radar[12] that contributes to India Meteorological Department radar network and serves as a stand-in for Doppler weather radar in Chennai.[13]

ISRO opened a viewing gallery at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in March 2019. The gallery faces the two launchpads and can accommodate 5,000 people giving the general public the opportunity to witness rocket launches. The launch of PSLV-C45 on 1 April 2019 was the first launch that allowed spectators into the gallery.[14]

Launch pads[edit]

PM Modi visits Satish Dhawan Space Centre First Launch Pad in June 2014; Launch Vehicle seen in the backdrop.

SLV Launch Pad[edit]

This launch pad was used by the Satellite Launch Vehicle and Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle is located at the southern tip of the current launch site. It has been decommissioned. Initially it was built for launching SLV-3 but was later augmented to be used as an ASLV launch complex.[citation needed]

First Launch Pad (FLP)[edit]

Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota imaged by a Dove cubesat two days before PSLV-C37 launch.

The modern First Launch Pad was built in the early 1990s for the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. It has also been used by the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle. The First Launch Pad is undergoing major expansion with PIF (PSLV Integration Facilities) project worth 475 crores. Once complete, the First Launch Pad is expected to cater to around 15 launches per year.[15]

Second Launch Pad (SLP)[edit]

Second Launch Complex became operational in 2005[16] and unlike First Launch Pad operates on philosophy of Integrate Transfer & Launch.[17] SLP is configured as a universal launch pad capable of accommodating PSLV, GSLV and GSLV Mk III launch vehicles of ISRO. In addition to the Vehicle Assembly building (VAB), a Solid Stage Assembly Building (SSAB) was constructed for assembly of S200 strapons of GSLV Mk III. Augmented SSAB can now assemble first stages of PSLV and GSLV with VAB holding another rocket in parallel. A new Second Vehicle Assembly Building (SVAB) in the same complex is being constructed with a budgetary grant of 630 crores and is expected to be ready in mid 2018.[15]

Third Launch Pad (TLP)[edit]

A Third Launch Pad is planned at a cost of Rs 6 billion and would be capable of supporting crewed missions as well.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rao, P. V. Manoranjan; B. N. Suresh; V. P. Balagangadharan, eds. (2015). "4.1 The Spaceport of ISRO - K. Narayana". From Fishing Hamlet to Red Planet: India's Space Journey. India: Harper Collins. p. 328. ISBN 9789351776901. This centre was originally named SHAR (an acronym for Sriharikota Range – mistakenly referred to as Sriharikota High Altitude Range by some people) by Sarabhai. SHAR in Sanskrit also means arrow, symbolic of the nature of activity and that seems to be the significance of the acronym.
  2. ^ "SDSC-SHAR Website". Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  3. ^ "షార్‌ డైరెక్టర్‌గా రాజరాజన్‌ బాధ్యతల స్వీకరణ". Sakshi (in Telugu). 30 June 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  4. ^ "RH-125". Encyclopedia Astronautica.
  5. ^ "SLV". Encyclopedia Astronautica.
  6. ^ "India's human space programme gets a fillip". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  7. ^ [1] Archived 6 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine Sriharikota Launching Range-Source
  8. ^ "SDSC: Planet Vision". 15 October 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Unveiling of the Bust of Satish Dhawan at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota & Presentation of Astronautical Society of India Awards by Prime Minister-Press Release, Date Released: Wednesday, 21 September 2005, Source: Indian Space Research Organisation
  10. ^ "India (Launchers)". Spacecraft Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  11. ^ [2] Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota Range (SHAR) (India), Civil space organisations – Launch facilities, Source – Jane's Information Group
  12. ^ "IMD - Radar Images and Products". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  13. ^ "IMD expanding radar network for improved forecasts". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Isro finally opens door for people to watch rocket launches - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  15. ^ a b "PIF Project". Prajasakti.
  16. ^ "President Dedicates Second Launch Pad(SLP) to the Nation - ISRO". Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  17. ^ "PSLV-C6 Brochure - ISRO". Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  18. ^ "ISRO to begin process soon for Human Space Flight Mission". The Hindu. 26 January 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2013.

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