Astronomy:Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station

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Short description: Indian spaceport

Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station
Rohini rocket.jpg
Launch of RH-300 Mk2 from TERLS
LocationThumba, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
Coordinates8°32′34″N 76°51′32″E / 8.54278°N 76.85889°E / 8.54278; 76.85889
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
Short nameTERLS
Established21 November 1963; 58 years ago (21 November 1963)

Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) is an Indian spaceport established on 21 November 1963.[1] Operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), it is located in Thumba, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, which is near the southern tip of mainland India , very close to earth's magnetic equator. It is currently used by ISRO for launching sounding rockets.[1]

600 acres of land was acquired for TERLS with the assistance of a local Bishop, Rev. Peter Bernard Periera, Bishop of Trivandrum, Vincent Victor Dereere and district collector Madhavan Nair.[2]The building of the St Mary Magdalene Church[3] was used as the rocket workshop and the bishop's house as the office.[4] The building now houses a space museum.[5] Then Minister of State for External Affairs, Lakshmi N. Menon helped a lot in smoothing the bureaucratic hurdles before the project at Delhi.[6] H.G.S. Murthy was appointed as the first Director of Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station.[7]

The station was built with the assistance of NASA, Soviet union and CNES. For the first launch, a Nike Apache sounding rocket was provided by NASA and the payload by CNES.[4]

The event did not gain the global media attention it deserved due to the Assassination of John F. Kennedy that happened in the following day. Later launches also used the Centaure rockets provided by the CNES.[4]


Thumba's[8] location at 8°32'34" N and 76°51'32" E is ideal for low-altitude, upper atmosphere and ionosphere studies. Thumba is a small fishing village situated close to the Thiruvananthapuram airport in Kerala.[9] Thumba is also one of the farthest points from Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Sounding Rockets - ISRO". 
  2. ICM, Team (2019-07-23). "When ISRO Aimed For the Heavens, a Tiny Church in Kerala Said Amen!" (in en-US). 
  3. "Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India: Speeches : Details". 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Rao, P.V. Manoranjan, ed (10 December 2015) (in en). From Fishing Hamlet to Red Planet: India's Space Journey. Harper Collins. p. 18. ISBN 978-93-5177-690-1. 
  5. "Transported on a Bicycle, Launched from a Church: The Amazing Story of India's First Rocket Launch" (in en-US). 2016-11-08. 
  6. "Remembering the guiding light". 
  7. "I'm proud that I recommended him for ISRO: EV Chitnis". 
  8. Ley, Willy (June 1964). "Anyone Else for Space?". Galaxy Science Fiction: 110–128. 
  9. "Forty years in Space". India Abroad. 

External links

Coordinates: 8°32′34″N 76°51′32″E / 8.54278°N 76.85889°E / 8.54278; 76.85889