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India successfully conducted the first launch from its upcoming spaceport in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, on February 28, 2024. The launch vehicle, an RH-200 sounding rocket, lifted off between 9:30 AM and 2:00 PM, marking a significant milestone for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

This inaugural launch from the Kulasekarapatnam spaceport wasn’t intended for space travel. Instead, the RH-200 sounding rocket served as a scientific tool, reaching an altitude of 60-80 kilometers for atmospheric research. Sounding rockets like the RH-200 provide valuable data for studying the upper atmosphere, including its composition, temperature, and wind patterns. This information is crucial for various scientific endeavors, such as improving weather forecasting models, understanding the impact of human activity on the ozone layer, and studying the aurora borealis.

The successful launch from Kulasekarapatnam signifies a critical step towards India’s development of a multi-launchpad capability. While the existing Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota primarily handles launches for satellites and spacecraft, the Kulasekarapatnam spaceport is being built specifically to cater to the growing demand for launching smaller satellites. This expansion is expected to enhance ISRO’s launch capabilities and cater to the burgeoning space industry in India.