India has scripted a success story in space. Its space programme has developed significantly as it moves towards self-reliance. The world sat up and took note of its many successes, especially the Mangalyaan mission. The fact that the Indian Space Research Organisation’s budget for 2019–2020 crossed ₹10,000 crores for the first time shows how important the space sector is regarded in India.
Since its inception, India’s space programme has been closely linked to the country’s social needs. Satellites were developed to provide telecommunication, weather forecasting, telemedicine, environmental monitoring, disaster management, national security, mapping and agricultural assessment. What’s Up, Germany? gives you a fast-paced overview of India’s space sector.
1962 The Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was established under the leadership of scientist Dr Vikram Sarabhai, who is considered the father of India’s space programme.
1975 ISRO built India’s first indigenous satellite, Aryabhata, marking a major milestone in its space programme.
1975–1976 ISRO and NASA jointly carried out the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) through which 2,400 villages received educational programmes using space technology.
1980s & 1990s
1980 The Indian-made satellite launch vehicle SLV-3 put Rohini
into orbit successfully. APJ Abdul Kalam, who later became the President of India, headed this project that made India a member of the exclusive space club. Kalam, also known as India’s “missile man”, greatly expanded the country’s space and missile programmes in the decades to come.
1983 ISRO launched the Indian National Satellite (INSAT) system for telecommunications, broadcasting, meteorology and search and rescue operations. With nine satellites, INSAT is one of the largest domestic communication satellite systems in the Asia-Pacific region.
1984 Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian cosmonaut to travel in space.
1988 India’s remote sensing programme began with the satellite IRS-1A. Today, the IRS system is the largest collection of remote sensing satellites for civilian use in the world.
1993 The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) made its first flight. Since 1999, it has also been launching foreign satellites, including Germany’s DLR-TUBSAT.
2001 India successfully launched its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) to place satellites into geostationary orbit.
2002Kalpana-1, the first dedicated meteorological satellite, was launched.
2004EDUSAT, which provided distance learning in rural areas, was put into orbit.
2008 Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first mission to the moon. It found compelling evidence of water on the surface.
2014 Mangalyaan, also known as the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), entered Mars orbit, making India the first country to succeed in its first attempt.
2016 ISRO placed 20 satellites in a single mission—a record for the space agency!
2017 ISRO created a world record by successfully deploying 104 satellites on one rocket. It also launched its heaviest rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III), which is capable of lifting a 4,000-kg payload to the Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).
2018 Using its heaviest rocket, India injected GSAT-29, its communication satellite, into orbit. It also built its heaviest satellite, GSAT-11.
2019 ISRO is now gearing up for its second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, as well as India’s first manned space mission, Gaganyaan, which is scheduled for 2022.
Lighter than a Chair!
That’s right! On 24th January 2019, ISRO launched the world’s lightest satellite, which weighs less than a wooden chair, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Kalamsat-V2 weighs only 1.26kg and was built by the students of Space Kidz India at a cost of ₹12 lakhs! It’s the first privately built Indian satellite which was launched by ISRO free of charge. Now that’s what you call a dream come true!