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Kerala to set up India’s first space tech park

The Kerala government will set up India’s first space tech park at the Thiruvananthapuram’s Knowledge City. The move is expected to make the city a manufacturing hub for space-related technology.

Additionally, a space museum named after the former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam will also be a part of the infrastructure. The state government has issued orders to allot the land required for the facility. The entire investment will be made by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), a major space research centre under the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The government plans to lease 20.01 acres of land to the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Ltd (KSITIL) to develop the space park. Out of this, 16.07 acres, now having SEZ status, will be de-notified by KSITIL.

Primarily a manufacturing hub for companies using GIS and other data systems, the integrated complex will also have a start-up incubator, accelerators including Airbus Bizlab, skill training systems, and production units.

KSITIL, the agency mandated to develop IT infrastructure in the state, will hand over required land to ISRO to set up the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Knowledge Centre and Space Museum, through a lease agreement.

Earlier, the government had allotted 1.75 acres of land at Kowdiar in the city to VSSC for the museum. Later, VSSC informed the government of the restrictions in taking up world-class construction on that land and requested for an alternative site for the project.

The Secretary of Electronics and IT of Kerala, M Sivasankar, said that with the space park materialising, Kerala will become a key hub of space technology in the country. He added that the space park will leverage the opportunities provided by Space 2.0 and generate high-tech job opportunities.

Apart from VSSC, some other major centres of ISRO are also located in and around the city. Together with the space park, they will help create a robust ecosystem for space technology applications and research, the Abdul Kalam museum being another attraction, he said.

Progress in space tech in the country is gaining momentum. Last month, OpenGov reported that India plans to have its own space station. It will launch a small module for microgravity experiments.

The project has already got clearance and the Department of Space (DoS) has reserved IN ₹10 crore (about US $1.4 million) for it. ISRO intends to develop technology that will allow it to transfer humans from one vehicle or spacecraft to another, but the immediate goal is to enable the refuelling of spacecraft to give them a longer life. Also, to transfer other crucial systems to an existing spacecraft, by transporting another to space.

More recently, the country launched the country’s second moon mission, Chandrayaan 2, aboard ISRO’s most powerful, the GSLV-MkIII-M1, from the spaceport of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The mission was aimed at landing a rover in the unexplored lunar south pole. The spacecraft is a three-module composite made up of an orbiter, lander, and rover. On its planned 48-day journey between lift-off and landing on the Moon’s South Pole, the composite will be subjected to a series of orbital manoeuvres to bring it to the moon’s vicinity.

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