ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Launch Center Operating with Minimal Staff as COVID-19 Cases Rise

GSLV Mk III booster lifts off. (Credit: ISRO)

Due to a rise in COVID-19 cases, ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre has suspended all regular activities for the time being. The New Indian Express reports:

“In view of the considerable number of Covid-19 positive cases in Shar and Sullurpeta housing colonies, it is essential to trace the primary contacts, test and isolate them to avoid further spread. All the office premises need to be fumigated and sanitised wherever the Covid positive employees had worked. Hence, the regular activities of SDSC Shar are suspended till completion of aforementioned activities,” said Shar controller V Kumbakarnan, in an official circular dated August 15, which is accessed by The New Indian Express. 

Meanwhile, Pulicat Nagar employees colony, where maximum number of Covid-19 cases are diagnosed, has been placed on strict lockdown.

It is unclear how long normal activities at India’s spaceport will be suspended. The story also gave no indication of how serious the outbreak of COVID-19 is at the center.

ISRO, which typically conducts five or six orbital launches annually, has yet to launch in 2020. The space agency’s most recent launch was in December 2019.

Launches known to be on the manifest include:

  • GSLV Mk.2 — GEO Imaging Satellite 1 (GISAT 1)
  • Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) maiden flight
  • PSLV — RISAT 2BR2 radar imaging satellite
  • SSLV — 4 BlackSky Global Earth observation satellites.