The news given out by union minister for the department of space Jitendra Singh on the planned spaceport in Tamil Nadu has been confirmed by ISRO chief K Sivan. According to Thoothukudi collector Sandeep Nanduri, the process of land acquisition is already on.
A spaceport in the peninsula would help ISRO conduct straight-southward launches, which accommodates more payload. The current launches from Sriharikota have to make a maneuver around Sri Lanka, which in the end restricts the amount of payload. Another advantage is that the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre at Mahendragiri, which assembles the second and fourth stage PSLV engines, is located within a 100 kms. The design of the proposed campus keeps in mind this proximity and officials there are reportedly coordinating with the administration.
The Tuticorin spaceport will cater mainly to the new Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV or mini-PSLV). The facility has been allotted funds close to 2 lakh crore, and the proposed design includes assembling facilities and two launch pads. The land acquisition is already on at Manappad for the 2,3000 acre-campus and the spaceport is thought to employ around 4000-10000 people.
Though the news about the new rocket launching pad near Kulashekarappattinam has been in the news for over a year, there have been setbacks due to the resistance of the local people to the land acquisition plans, among other issues. Locals and activists have already successfully prevented the Department of Atomic Energy from setting up a very large science experiment in Theni just weeks before the State government ordering police personnel to open fire against a mass protest against the Sterlite copper-smelting plant.