Tuesday, May 4, 2010



Modern space research in India is most visibly traced to the activities of

scientist S.K. Mitra who conducted a series of experiments leading to the

sounding of the ionosphere by application of ground based radio methods

in 1920's Calcutta. Later, Indian scientists like C.V. Raman and

Meghnad Saha contributed to scientific principles applicable in space


Initial experiments in space sciences included the study of cosmic

radiation, high altitude and airborne testing of instruments, deep

underground experimentation at the Kolar mines—one of the

deepest mining sites in the world — and studies of the upper

atmosphere. Studies were carried out at research laboratories,

universities, and independent locations.

Government support became visible by 1950 when the Department of

Atomic Energy (India) was founded with Homi Bhabha as secretary. The

Department of Atomic Energy provided funding for space research

throughout India.

Beginning in the 1960s, close ties with the Soviet Union enabled ISRO

rapidly to develop the Indian space program and advance nuclear power

in India even after the first nuclear test explosion by India on May 18,

1974 at Pokhran. The death of Homi Bhabha in an air crash on January

24, 1966 came as a blow to the Indian space program. Following

Bhabha's passing, Sarabhai was sent to assume Bhabha's place as the

chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and secretary of the

Department of Atomic Energy.

The Indian Space Research Organization in its modern form was

created by Vikarm Sarabhai in 1969. This body was to take control of

all space activities in the Republic of India. In 1972, Space Commission

was established. In 1975, India launched its first satellite,

Aryabhata, and thus entered the space age.

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Over the last two and half decades, the Indian space programme has

made impressive progress through a well integrated, self-reliant



Directed towards self-reliant use of space technology for national

development with the main thrust on:

(i) Mass communication and education via satellite.

(ii) Survey and management of natural resource through remote

sensing technology, environmental monitoring and meteorological


(iii) Development of indigenous satellite and satellite launch vehicles.

Space Research Organizations

(i) Indian Space Research Organizations (ISRO), set up in 1969, at

Ahmedabad with Prof. Vikram Sarabhai as Chairman, is the apex

body to provide guidelines, formulate policies and monitor

implementations of the national space policy.

(ii) Physical Research Laboratories (PRL).

(iii) Department of Space (DOS) established in 1972, bringing

ISRO/PRL, etc., under it to make it a Government of India


(iv) National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) was set up

(v) Space Segment Project was introduced in 1977.

Space Missions

1. Aryabhata

India launched its first experimental satellite on April 19, 1975, from a

Soviet cosmodrome to perform scientific X-ray experiments in space and

send data to earth.

2. Bhaskara-I

India's second 436 kg satellite was launched on June 7, 1979, to collect

information on India's land, water, forest and ocean resources.

3. Rohini


The Rohini series of satellite were designed and built for Indian scientific

programs. Four satellites were launched in the Rohini series; Rohini–1A,

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1B, 2 and 3. The Rohini-1B was also the first Indian satellite launched by

an Indian rocket.

Rohini 1B: Launched on July 18, 1980, from Sriharikota aboard the SLV-

3. It was India's first successful launch. This experimental satellite

followed the failure of the Rohini–1A on August 10, 1979. It re-entered

orbit on May 20, 1981.

Rohini 2: Launched on May 31, 1981, by SLV–3 from Sriharikota.

Rohini 3: Launched on April 17, 1983, from Sriharikota aboard the SLV-

3. It carried two cameras and L-band beacon. This satellite returned

around 5,000 earth images before being de-activated on September 24,

1984. It re-entered orbit on April 19, 1990.

4. APPLE (Ariane Passenger Payload Experiment)

India's first experimental, geostationary satellite weighing 673 kg was

launched on June 19, 1981.

5. Bhaskara-II

India's second satellite for earth observation was launched on November

20, 1981.

6. SLV Mission (Satellite Launch Vehicle)

India's first satellite launch vehicle SLV–3 was successfully launched on

July 18, 1980, from Sriharikot. Rohini–2 (RS–D2) was put into orbit on

April 17, 1983, using SLV-3, and this completed the planned

developmental flights of the SLV-3.

7. IRS Mission (Indian Remote Sensing Satellite)

IRS–1A India's first IRS was launched on March, 1988, for monitoring

and management of natural resources.

IRS–1B India's second remote sensing satellite was launched on

August 29, 1991, to replace IRS-IA which was nearing the end of its life.


The IRS system has been further an enhanced by IRS-IC, IRS-P3, IRS-ID

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and IRS-P4, the last three having been launched on December 1995, by a

Russian rocket and IRS-ID launched by PSLV on Sept. 29, 1997.

IRS-P3 was launched by the third developmental flight of PSLV-D3 on 21,

March 1996.

Another satellite IRS-P4 (OCEANSAT) was launched by PSLV on May 26,


Two more satellites, IRS-P5 and IRS-P6 for cartography and agricultural

resources survey respectively are planned for launch in next three years.

8. ASLV Mission (Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle)

ASLV is designed to augment indigenous satellite launching capability and

put 150 kg class satellite into low earth orbit.

9. SROSS (Stretched Rohini Satellite Series)

After failure of two ASLV launches, SROSS-III, a 105 kg satellite was

successfully placed in a 450 km high orbit via the launching of ASLV-D3,

on May 20, 1992, thought the lifespan of the satellite was only 55 days.

The fourth developmental flight was made on May 4, 1994, and SROSSC4

was successfully placed into the earth orbit from Sriharikota.

ASLV is the forerunner of the more powerful Polar Satellite Launch

Vehicle (PSLV) and the Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

The first developmental flight of the PSLV, called PSLV-D1, on

September 20, 1993, failed. However, according to ISRO it was a partial

success which established India's capabilities in liquid propulsion system.

10. INSAT Mission (Indian National Satellite System)

The Indian National Satellite (INSAT) system is a joint venture of the

Department of Space, Department of Telecommunications, India

Meteorological Department, and All India Radio and Doordarshan.

The overall coordination and management of INSAT system rests with the

Secretary-level INSAT Coordination Committee.


Established in 1983, INSAT is one of the largest domestic communication

satellite systems in the Asia Pacific Region with nine satellites in operation

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GSAT–2, EDUSAT and INSAT–4A: The latest, INSAT–4A, which was

launched successfully from Kourou in French Guyana on December 22,

2005, has given further boost to INSAT capability, especially, for Direct-

To-Home (DTH) television broadcast. Launch of INSAT–4C was

unsuccessful on July 10, 2006.

A quick look at INSAT launches is given below:

INSAT–1A On April 10, 1982–it failed prematurely

INSAT1B On August 30, 1983–it was successful

INSAT1C On July 22, 1988–it became redundant in 1989

INSAT10 On July 17, 1990–it was successful and completed the


INSAT2 Project

INSAT2A:India's first indigenously built second generation satellite. It

was launched on July 10, 1992. It is equipped with 50 per cent more

capacity than the INSAT–I series.

INSAT2B:India's second indigenously built satellite. It was launched by

the European Space Agency from Kourou, French Guinea on July 23;

1993. INSAT–2B took place of INSAT–1B whose functioning ended

following the completion of its ten-year life.

At present the system is served by ISRO-built satellites INSAT–2C,

INSAT–2E, INSAT–3B and INSAT–2DT procured from ARABSAT in October


Five Satellites, INSAT-3A to INSAT-3E are planned to be launched in

1999–2002 time frame.

INSAT3B was launched in March 2000; it carried 12 extended C–band

transponders, 3ku-band transponders and CxS mobile satellite service


The Press Trust of India (PTI) has implemented a system to provide its

news and information services at high speed and increased volume by

utilizing broadcast facilities of INSAT satellite.


With the availability of INSAT–2C, INSAT–2E and INSAT–3B business

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communication in ku-band and mobile satellite services are being tried


INSAT has enabled a vast expansion in the television services with over

1079 TV transmitters linked through INSAT.

The fourth development flight of ASLV–4 was made on May 4, 1994, and

the SROSS–C4 was successfully placed into the near earth orbit from


Today, India has realized the operational launch vehicle, PSLV, capable of

launching 1,200 kg IRS class of remote sensing satellite into polar sum

synchronous orbit.

The first successful developmental launch (PSLV–D2) took place on

October 15, 1994 when it placed the IRS–P2 remote sending satellite into

polar orbit.

The second and final developmental test (PSLV–D3) was conducted on

March 21, 1996, when IRS-P3 was placed into the intended polar orbit.

The first operational flight, PSLV–C1 placed IRS–1D in orbit.

PSLV–C2 placed IRS–P4 (OCEANSAT), a Korean satellite KITSAT–3 and a

German satellite TUBSAT into 727 km polar sun synchronous orbit on May

26, 1996.

PSLV–C3 is planned to launch IRS–P5 and Belgium satellite PROBA

The development of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle

(GSLV), incorporating a cryogenic stage, which will be capable of placing

2,000 kg INSAT class of satellite in geosynchronous transfer orbit, is at

first developmental test stage.

India has developed the following space launch vehicles:

1. SLV–Satellite Launch Vehicle

2. ASLV–Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle

3. PSLV–Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle

4. GSLV–Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle

India is also developing following space launch vehicles:



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The launcher and propulsion represents the ISRO's largest single

development area. The launcher program has seen a gradual evolution

India's First Man in Space

On April 3, 1984 Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma became India's

first man to go into space. He was launched abroad Soyuz T-II

spaceship from Baikonor Cosmodrome in Kazakhastan (former USSR)

along with two Soviet cosmonauts. The 6,850 kg spacecraft traveled at a

speed of 8 km per second and docked with the orbiting Soviet Space

Station Salyut–7 to begin its seven-day space experiments. Squadron

Leader Rakesh Sharma returned safely to earth on April 11, 1984.


The Chandrayan-1 mission was announced by former Prime Minister Atal

Behari Vajpayee on August 15, 2003, during his Independence Day

address to the nation. Chandrayaan-1 was India's first unmanned lunar

probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in

October 2008, and operated until August 2009. The mission included a

lunar orbiter and an impactor. India launched the spacecraft by a

modified version of the PSLV, PSLV C11 on 22 October 2008 from Satish

Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Nellore District, Andhra Pradesh,

about 80 km north of Chennai, at 06:22 IST. The mission was a major

boost to India's space program, as India researched and developed its

own technology in order to explore the Moon. The vehicle was successfully

inserted into lunar orbit on 8 November 2008.

On 14 November 2008, the Moon Impact Probe separated from the

Chandrayaan orbiter at 20:06 and struck the South Pole in a controlled

manner, making India the fourth country to place its flag on the Moon.

The probe impacted near Shackleton Crater at 20:31 ejecting

underground soil that could be analysed for the presence of lunar water


The estimated cost for the project was Rs. 386 crore (US$ 80


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