The chief of India’s space programme ordered an investigation on Tuesday into the fire breakout that occurred at the country’s Sriharikota Space Centre in the south, which killed six people including a senior engineer.
Madhavan Nair, who heads the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), mentioned recently that the damage caused by Monday’s fire to the space centre would not disrupt their space projects. He had asked a seven-member commitee of scientists, both serving and retired, to probe the cause of the fire and submit their findings within six weeks.
An accident occurred at the Solid Propellant Rocket Booster (SPROB) Plant in Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR), Sriharikota, at about 1600 hours a couple of days back. This happened while a test propellant segment was being prepared for transportation after curing. The propellant in the segment caught fire and caused severe damage to the building, in which the operations were going on. Three persons have escaped from the building with burns and they have been admitted to the hospital in Chennai. Operations are on to rescue the others. Emergency action have been put on to approach the building and clear the debris and reach the people inside. A high-level Committee has been constituted to look into the matter. Chairman, ISRO, Shri G. Madhavan Nair, has rushed to Sriharikota to personally supervise the operations. Six people were killed and three others seriously injured when fuel being loaded for tests on a satellite launch rocket exploded, sparking a huge fire.
Rajiv Lochan, assistant scientific secretary in ISRO, said initial estimates showed building repairs at Sriharikota would take five months. Indian missile experts, meanwhile, described it as “providence” that the development of the nuclear-capable Agni ballistic missile, first tested as a prototype in 1989, had been kept away from the island space centre.
The centre began operations in 1971 for the launch of rockets involved in India’s domestic space programme. The area surrounding Sriharikota is a high-security zone and kept under constant watch by Indian security forces. A new Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, jointly being developed with Russia, and a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle will be launched from the site this year as scheduled, added ISRO. The space centre is used to launch India’s launch vehicles’ remote sensing and communication satellites. It also houses the launch vehicle assembly and service facilities such as real time data processing and flight safety.