Coimbatore: The state government handed over 2,000 acres of land at Kulasekarapattinam in Thoothukudi district to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) last month to develop a satellite launch port, ISRO chairman S Somanath said here on Saturday reports Times of India.

Speaking to reporters after attending the 26th convocation ceremony at Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences, Somanath said ISRO must obtain environment, site and safety approvals to begin the project. “It will take two years to set up the facility, which will have a new launchpad, radar, ground stations, tracking systems and safety systems, among others.”

ISRO is focusing on the safety aspects of Gaganyaan, India’s first manned mission, Somanath said. “We are planning to demonstrate a crew escape system and will simultaneously do an unmanned mission before the actual launch.”

Chancellor of Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences Paul Dhinakaran presided over the convocation and distributed certificates. As many as 1,698 students received degrees.

The institution also honoured Somanath and Colin Price of the Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Tel Aviv University in Israel by conferring the doctor of science degree.

Vice-chancellor P Mannar Jawahar, pro-vice-chancellors E J James and Ridling Margaret Waller, and registrar R Elijah Blessing were present.