CHENNAI: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) rocket launch station at Sriharikota has resumed work partially to carry out critical and essential activities related to the ambitious Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) project.
Two key facilities, the Solid Propellant Plant (SPP) and Solid Propellant Rocket Booster Plant (SPROB), have opened for limited operations ten days after they were shut down.
The maiden launch of the SSLV rocket, a smaller counterpart of the PSLV that ISRO developed to launch small satellites more frequently, was planned this year. However, the coronavirus pandemic has cripped ISRO's operations.
ISRO Chairman K Sivan has acknowledged that the organisation was facing trouble in carrying out regular activities. However, officials told The New Indian Express that at least two launches would happen by the end of the year.
Sources said SSLV casting was planned for September 4 and the premixing operation will commence from August 27.
In an official communication, accessed by The New Indian Express, Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC Shar) controller V Kumbakarnan said: "In view of the prevailing COVID-19 situation in SDSC Shar, it is decided that SPP and SPROB will function with required staff to carry out the critical/essential activities related to SSLV with effect from August 25 and till further orders. Roster shall be drawn from the staff in SPP, SPROB and other participating entities for attending the duties."
Apart from SPP and SPROB, other entities/facilities of SDSC shar will continue to function with minimum essential/skeletal staff. All the employees other than essential services/identified employees of SPP and SPROB shall work from home and should be available on telephone and electronic means of communication at all times and shall attend the duties on requirement, according to the new working modalities issued.
Authorities said as a preventive measure to contain the spread of COVID-19, all the residents of housing colonies in Shar and Sullurpeta have been asked to remain in their houses and move out only in case of essential/emergency work by submitting proper documents to the respective Colony Welfare Clubs duly approved by the entity chiefs.