The News Nation (India) article ISRO PSLV-C37 launch: Why it is crucial for India? Everything you should know about the 104 satellites mission includes this photo, with the caption "ISRO's biggest launch: India to script history as 104 satellites set to blast off on PSLV-C37 rocket."

It looks like one could place multiple rockets around a central strongback "core" which seems unusual, and there are so many very long, heavy horizontal platforms extending in various directions.

What is happening to the rocket in this ISRO photo - what are these huge platforms?

Incidentally, photo is also obviously stretched/distorted horizontally. I believe the second photo is a better representation of the pre-launch configuration!

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above: From here. Credit ISRO.

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above: From here. Credit ISRO.

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above: Found another one with platforms again. From here. Credit ISRO.


Those platforms are access walkways for technicians, used for the final inspection of the rocket before launch. The platforms are positioned around the rocket for inspection, then rotated out of the way before launch.

The tower is the Umbilical Tower of the Second Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

As per the “Integrate, Transfer and Launch (ITL)” concept, based on which the second launch pad and the associated facilities are designed, the entire vehicle is assembled and checked-out on a mobile launch pedestal in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) which is 83m tall and then moved in vertical position to the launch pad on a twin rail track. Following the remote fuelling operations and final check out through the Umbilical Tower, the vehicle takes off.

Launch tower

The second photo in the question is of the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan:

First Launch Pad

This pad has a much smaller umbilical tower without access walkways. Instead, they use the Mobile Service Tower (the big white/green structure in the background), this entire building can be moved on rails to the launch mount.

  • $\begingroup$ OK, looks like we are heading toward an answer, but I'm wondering - does one launch pad use ITL and the other not use ITL? Can you give them names, besides "second launch pad" and "other launch pad"? Thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 16 '17 at 9:04
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Oh, I see, they are literally called "first launch pad" and "second launch pad". $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 16 '17 at 9:41

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