The Switch that made the Rocket Launch

Before the three-stage Indian GSLV launch vehicle can be fired into orbit, it must cover the route to the launching pad at the railway station of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre by rail. But because the Indian ISRO space agency is pursuing plans to increase the number of launches from the complex at the southeast coast of India in the state of Andhra Pradesh, additional tracks are having to be laid to the only launch pad. And switch systems are also needed to direct the ramp, along with the rocket, onto the correct, roughly 1 km length of track. Weight: approx. 2,000 tonnes. Despite having gained prior experience at the European spaceport in Kourou, Vossloh thus saw itself having to come up with a whole new concept. The 16-wheel rolling ramp will be safely guided over a dual-track switch – with an impressive track gauge of 14 metres(!). And because delays in the launch scheduled are not an option, the giant switch system will have to be installed within six weeks towards the end of 2016.