Over tele-link from New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday inaugurated the new campus of Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), an institution moulding the next generation of space scientists for the country, at Valiamala, near here.

Functions were conducted simultaneously at the Prime Ministers residence in New Delhi and at Valiamala at the southern end of the country, to mark the occasion. While the Prime Minister and three of his Cabinet colleagues and the top scientific community in the country were present at the function in New Delhi, four of the Kerala Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition and top people of the IIST and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) attended the function in Valiamala.

Besides the formal inauguration of the IIST campus, the functions also featured the distribution of ISRO awards to individual scientists and teams in IRSO and Defence Research Development Organisation for the contributions they had made in 2007 for the advance of Indian Space Science. While a few of the awardees, received the recognition directly from the Prime Minister, many others were honoured at the function at Valiamala.

The Prime Minister also inaugurated a new Space Complex of the ISRO, by tele-link, at Sadiqnagar in New Delhi. This complex would set going ISROs endeavours to popularise space technologys people-oriented and development-oriented services such as tele-medicine, tele-education, disaster management and village resource management in the northern parts of the country, ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair, said at the function in New Delhi.

The director of IIST, B.N. Suresh, addressing the function at Valiamala, said that the institution would be shifting to the new campus by January 2010. Post-graduate courses in space science disciplines would start at the IIST at the beginning of the next academic year. The institution has just completed admission to the third batch of students in B.Tech. programmes in Avionics, Aerospace Engineering and Physical Sciences.

With the addition of the third batch, this institution, started in 2007, will have nearly 450 students on its rolls. It is now functioning in the campus of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre at Veli, near here.

The IIST would be having its observatory and associated laboratories at Upper Sanatorium in the Ponmudi Hills in Thiruvananthapuram district. Eight hectares of land in the Ponmudi Hills for the observatory and associated facilities and 22 hectares of land out of the new 40-hectare campus at Valiamala were provided to the institution by the State government free of cost.

The upcoming fully residential campus at Valiamala will house the academic blocks, research laboratories, library, information centre, computer centre, administrative area, convocation hall, residential complex for faculty and support staff, students activity centre, health care centre, health club and sports complex. In addition to hostels for students, there will also be studio type apartments in the campus for research students.

Those who attended the function at Valiamala included Ministers M.A. Baby, K.P. Rajendran, N.K. Premachandran, and M. Vijayakumar and Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy.