They are geographical twins: both are easterly exposed coastal lowlands, separated from mainland by backwaters. And both serve as launching pads for their countries‘ space exploration: the one in Florida and the one on the coast of Andhra Pradesh, just north of the Tamil Nadu border near Chennai.
Both have the added advantage of being surrounded by protected nature reserves. Sriharikota made headlines again on 22 July 2019, when India launched its first moon mission.
The Chandrayaan 2 mission sets new frontiers for India’s space programme by exploring new areas on the moon. But India is since long a well established player in the international space race. From Sriharikota it launches regularly commercial satellites, not just for itself but also for international customers. It has a range of launch modules tested and developed over the years.
One may argue, whether a country who still struggles to secure basic needs for many of its citizens should spend money on space research. But that is a false alternative: both are required (and both may supplement each other) to keep India self-reliant and make it a global player. India has to be attractive for its greatest brains to stay in the country and as well broaden the basis for overall development for its 1.2 billion citizens. For example, remote sensing and down-to-earth follow-up are complimentary strategies for development.
The birds near Sriharikota may wonder what roars above them. But for the people of India it is a sure sign that their country, more than 70 years after liberating itself from colonialism, is on a path into the future.
Source of the cartoon: The Hindu online, 23th July 2019