Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the space agency of India. The organisation is involved in science, engineering and technology to harvest the benefits of outer space for India and the mankind. ISRO is a major constituent of the Department of Space (DOS), Government of India. The department executes the Indian Space Programme primarily through various Centres or units within ISRO.
ISRO was previously the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR), set up by the Government of India in 1962, as envisioned by Dr. VikramA Sarabhai. ISRO was formed on August 15, 1969 and superseded INCOSPAR with an expanded role to harness space technology. DOS was set up and ISRO was brought under DOS in 1972.
The prime objective of ISRO/DOS is the development and application of space technology for various national needs. To fulfil this objective, ISRO has established major space systemsfor communication, television broadcasting and meteorological services; resources monitoring and management; space-based navigation services. ISRO has developed satellite launch vehicles, PSLV and GSLV, to place the satellites in the required orbits.
Alongside its technological advancement, ISRO contributes to science and science education in the country. Various dedicated research centres and autonomous institutions for remote sensing, astronomy and astrophysics, atmospheric sciences and space sciences in general function under the aegis of Department of Space. ISRO’s own Lunar and interplanetary missions along with other scientific projects encourage and promote science education, apart from providing valuable data to the scientific community which in turn enriches science.
ISRO has its headquarters in Bengaluru. Its activities are spread across various centres and units. Launch Vehicles are built at VikramSarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram; Satellites are designed and developed at U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), Bengalure; Integration and launching of satellites and launch vehicles are carried out from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota; Development of liquid stages including cryogenic stage is carried out at Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Valiamala& Bengaluru; Sensors for Communication and Remote Sensing satellites and application aspects of the space technology are taken up at Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad and Remote Sensing satellite data reception processing and dissemination is entrusted to National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad.
The activities of ISRO are guided by its Chairman, who would also be the secretary of DOS and Chairman of Space commission – the apex body that formulates the policies and overseas the implementation of the Indian Space Programme.
The Chandrayaan-3 lander made a successful soft landing on the surface of the Moon a little after 6 pm on Wednesday, making India the first country to reach close to the lunar south pole. India has also become the fourth nation in history to land on the lunar surface, after the United States, the erstwhile Soviet Union, and China.
As the nation celebrates the biggest breakthrough of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), here is a look at the previous notable milestones of the space agency through three of its major programmes: satellites, launch vehicles, and planetary exploration.
ISRO’s satellite programmes
The launch of the Aryabhata satellite on April 19, 1975, marked India’s entry into the space era. Built to conduct experiments in X-ray astronomy, aeronomics, and solar physics, the 360 kg spacecraft was entirely designed and fabricated by ISRO. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi named it after the legendary fifth-century mathematician and astronomer, choosing Aryabhata ahead of ‘Mitra’, to signify the friendship between the Soviet Union and India, and ‘Jawahar’
Launch vehicle programmes
India had been thinking of rockets even before ISRO was established. On November 21, 1963, it launched the US Nike Apache ‘sounding rocket’ from Thumba, near Thiruvananthapuram. The rocket was taken to the launch site on a bullock cart. Sounding rockets are suborbital rockets that carry experiments to the upper atmosphere of the Earth. They aren’t capable of exiting the planet’s gravity or reaching into space.
The first Indian launch vehicle to arrive there was the SVL-3 in 1980. The mission was led by A P J Abdul Kalam, who had joined ISRO in 1969, and was responsible for designing, developing and launching the vehicle. But the success didn’t come instantly as the first attempt to send the SVL-3 into space on August 10, 1979, ended in failure.