While ISRO is developing the GSLV Programme and making continuous improvements to its workhorse, the PSLV, one is left wondering at the state of rocketry in India, considered as a nation that made several bold experiments in rocketry. I just thought it would be a nice gesture to all the odd experimental rocketeers if ISRO would allow the use of the Old Launch Pad for experimental rocketry.
The Old Launch Pad is at the southern tip of the Sriharikota High Altitude Range (SHAR), now called the Satish Dhawan Space Center. It was used for the launch of the SLV-3 and the ASLV programmes. Now-a-days it seems to be used for launching higher end sounding rocket, if I understand correctly.
[The post had an image from The Hindu on the first SLV-3 launch from the old launch pad. Insert here if you can find it.]
Opening a place to experiment would be a great gesture on the part of ISRO, which wants to encourage both universities and industry to participate in the Indian space programme. Without industry, it would not be able to outsource the construction of the PSLV. The industry would be more inspired if they could be more than just contractors to ISRO. One never knows what might have arisen out of a rocket industry growing in India. Perhaps an Indian company may have succeeded in developing a GSLV alternative? I do not think it is too late. As ISRO moves towards human rating its launch vehicles, there is possibility for developing industrial capability in launch vehicle technologies. Such capabilities can not only be used for launching payloads into orbit but also launching interplanetary exploration probes and landing vehicles which use rockets. It might also prove helpful in dual use technolgies providing missile capabilities to DRDO.
For university students, challenges exist in rocket technologies that are getting developed for terrestrial exploration and interplanetary applications. It could mean trying out new fuel combinations, new rockets for Earth and space or even building high quality materials in the university lab.