THE INDIAN Government has approved construction of a second launch pad at the Sriharikota space centre in the south of the country.

Spending on the project was approved in the 1995-6 space budget, in which New Delhi also approved three more test flights of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

The first developmental flight, of the PSLV-D1, on 20 September 1993, failed to place the IRS-1E satellite into polar Sun-synchronous orbit. The second test flight, the PSLV-D2 on 15 October 1994, was a success. The first of the new test flights is due to take place late this year.

The Geo-synchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) has also received a budget boost, with the allocation of R's 1.4 billion ($46.6 million) for work on the project in the next financial year. The total launch cost has been revised to Rs9.8 billion. The first launch is due in 1997.

India hopes to be able to place 1,500/2,500kg-class satellites in geo-synchronous transfer orbit with the launch vehicle. The GSLV became snared in controversy in 1992, when the USA forced Russia to scrap a deal to transfer cryogenic-engine technology for the launcher, claiming that it would aid Indian ballistic-missile-building aspirations.

Since the deal was blocked, the budget allocation for the local development of the engine has been increased, to R's 891 million for 1995-56, with a total estimated cost of Rs3.5 billion.

The allocation also provides for the construction of a new Oceansat remote-sensing satellite.

Source: Flight International