Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota, the Spaceport of India, is one of the lead centres of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Department of Space (DOS), Government of India. The Centre provides world class launch base infrastructure for national and international customers in accomplishing diverse launch vehicle/satellite missions for remote sensing, communication, navigation & scientific purposes and is one among the best known names of the Spaceports of the world today. The space centre, which was popularly known as SHAR (Sriharikota Range) was renamed as Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR on September 5, 2002, in fond memory of Prof. Satish Dhawan, former Chairman of ISRO.
The genesis of SDSC SHAR can be traced back to 1960s when the great visionary Dr. Vikram A Sarabhai embarked upon space research activities in the country and envisioned that “we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society”. To venture on the indigenous development of satellites and their launch vehicles, it was decided to set up a rocket launch station on the East Coast of our country, far from populated areas. 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 have made Sriharikota the ideal location for the spaceport. This spindle shaped island in SPSR Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh, situated in the backwater Pulicat Lake and sandwiched by Buckingham Canal on the West and Bay of Bengal on the East, was chosen in 1969 for setting up the rocket launch station of our country. It became operational on October 9, 1971 with the flight of ‘Rohini-125’, a small sounding rocket. Since then the facilities here were gradually expanded to meet the growing needs of ISRO. Off Sullurupeta – a small town on the Chennai – Kolkata National highway (NH-5) – a 20 minutes drive towards the East, along the road laid across the Pulicat Lake takes one to Sriharikota.
Sriharikota covers an area of about 43,360 acres (175sq.km) with a coastline of 50km. Eucalyptus, casuarina plantation, scrub jungle vegetation (including a few medicinal herbs), groves of coconut & palm and cane breaks around shallow fresh water ponds dominate the landscape of Sriharikota. To offset the increased usage of land and to balance the nature, simultaneous action of forest regeneration has been contemplated and implemented in right earnest. All these measures have helped in the conservation of flora and fauna of Sriharikota. Both the South-West and the North-East monsoons serve the island. However, the later brings rains during October – December only, thus providing a large number of sunny days suitable for out-door static tests and launch operations. During October – December, thousands of migratory birds visit the Pulicat Lake from faraway places, turning the Sriharikota region into a veritable paradise for ornithologists and nature lovers.