The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is building a third launch pad as it eyes plans to significantly boost its launch tempo to 58 space missions during the next five years, according to a senior government official.
“To be precise, the program will consist of 33 satellite missions and 25 launch vehicle missions to be undertaken during the 12th five-year plan, which ends March 31, 2017,” says V. Narayanasamy, minister of state in the prime minister’s office, which is in charge of the space department.
Preliminary studies for establishing the third launch pad, to be located at the spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, are under way, according to Narayanasamy.
He says the proposed plan is currently “under consideration” and the funds required to carry it out will be “finalized in the next few months.”
A government panel on space and technology earlier this year recommended a financial allocation of nearly $10 billion for various space missions for the next five years. India has so far completed at least 10 missions in each of the 8th, 9th and 10th planing periods, and 29 in the 11th five-year plan period, which ended on March 31.
India’s growing roster of space missions is expected to boost industry participation in the sector. However, ISRO scientists point to a number of challenges faced by the country’s space programs, including satellite transponder capacity and crowded pads.
India’s ambitious space program envisions launching at least five satellites by the end of this year, and the country’s first mission to Mars lifting off in November 2013.