Indian Spaceport Becomes COVID-19 Hot Spot as Launch Drought Continues

PSLV rocket (Credit: ISRO)

The New Indian Express reports that India’s Satish Dhawan Space Center, which has not conducted a launch in nine months, has become a COVID-19 hot spot.

For the second day in a row, India’s spaceport has recorded around 31 new Covid-19 cases causing serious headache for the administration. A total of 90 people, who were primary and secondary contacts of infected persons, were tested of which 31 are diagnosed positive.

Despite the sudden spurt in cases, Shar administration has decided not to suspend the operations and 50 per cent staff are asked to attend the duty. “The Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) works are going on in full swing. We are hopeful of launching maiden SSLV flight by end of this year,” a senior ISRO official said….

But, the people who are worst affected are the contract engineers residing outside Shar colonies. A contract employee said that he did not receive salary since last four months and with rising Covid-19 cases the possibility of a call back looks grim.

ISRO has not conducted an orbital launch from the facility this year. The Indian space agency usually launches five or six times annually. India’s most recent launch was on Dec. 11, 2019.