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Friday, 16 September 2011


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Despite being a developing economy with its attendant problems, India has effectively developed space technology and has applied it successfully for its rapid development and today is offering a variety of space services globally. During the formative decade of 1960s, space research was conducted by India mainly with the help of sounding rockets. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was formed in 1969. Space research activities were provided additional fillip with the formation of the Space Commission and the Department of Space by the government of India in 1972. And, ISRO was brought under the Department of Space in the same year. In the history of the Indian space programme, 70s were the era of Experimentation during which experimental satellite programmes like Aryabhatta, Bhaskara, Rohini and Apple were conducted. The success of those programme, led to era of operationalisation in 80s during which operational satellite programmes like INSAT and IRS came into being. Today, INSAT and IRS are the major programmes of ISRO.
The most significant milestone of the Indian Space Programme during the year 2005-2006 was the successful launch of PSLV-C6. On 5 May 2005, the ninth flight of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C6) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota successfully placed two satellites - the 1560 kg CARTOSTAR-1 and 42kg HAMSAT - into a predetermined polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). Coming after seven launch successes in a row, the success of PSLV-C6 further demonstrated the reliability of PSLV and its capability to place payloads weighing demonstrated the reliability of PSLV and its capability to place payloads weighing up to 1600 kg satellites into a 600 km high polar SSO.
The successful launch of INSAT-4A, the heaviest and most powerful satellite built by India so far, on 22 December 2005 was the other major event of the year 2005- 06. INSAT-4A is capable of providing Direct-To-Home (DTM) television broadcasting Services.)
The Indian National Satellite (INSAT) system is one of the largest domestic communication satellite systems in the Asia-Pacific region. In the 1980s, it initiated a major revolution in India's communications sector and sustained the same later. The satellites of INSAT system, which are in service today, are INSAT-2F, INSAT-3A, INSAT-3B, INSAT-3C, INSAT-3E, KALPANA-1, GSAT-2, EDUSAT and INSAT-4A, that was launched recently. The system provides a total of about 175 transponders in the C, Extended C and Ku-bands. Being a multipurpose satellite system, INSAT provides services to telecommunications, television broadcasting, weather forecasting, disaster warning and Search and Rescue fields.
INSAT system is also providing meteorological services through Very High Resolution Radiometer and CCD cameras on some of its spacecraft. This apart, cyclone monitoring through meteorological imaging and issue of warnings on impending cyclones through disaster warning receivers have been operationalised. For this, 350 receivers have been installed along the east and west coasts of India.
India has the largest constellation of Remote Sensing Satellites, which are providing services both at the national and global levels. From the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) Satellites, data is available in a variety of spatial resolutions staring from 360 metres and highest resolution being 2.5 metres. Besides, the state-of-the-art cameras of IRS spacecraft take the pictures of the Earth in several spectral bands. In future, ISRO intends to launch IRS spacecraft with better spatial resolution and capable of imaging day and night. The satellites of IRS system which are in service today are IRS-1C, IRS- ID, IRS-P3, OCEANSAT-1, Technology Experimental Satellite (TES), RESOURCESAT-1, and the recently launched CARTOSAT-1 capable of taking stereo pictures. The upcoming Remote Sensing Satellite are Cartosat-2, RISAT (Redar Imaging Satellite) and Oceansat-2.
After successfully testing the first indigenous launch vehicle SLV-3 in 1980, ISRO built the next generation Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV). ISRO's Launch Vehicle Programme had a giant leap with the successful launch of IRS-P2 spacecraft onboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in October 1994. On 18 April 2001, India successfully launched is Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). Technology development for advanced launch vehicles made good progress with the breakthrough achieved during the year in Supersonic Combustion Ramjet (SCRAMJET) to be employed in Air-Breathing engine. This is an important element in the launch vehicle technology development. Concepts for reusable launch vehicle are also being studied.
The four stage PSLV is capable of launching upto 1,600 kg satellites into a 620 km polar orbit. It has provision to launch payloads from 100 kg micro-satellites or mini or small satellites in different combinations. It can also launch one-two class payloads into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). So far, it has performed nine missions with eight consecutive successes. The latest launch of PSLV (PSLV-C6) was on 5 May 2005 during which the vehicle precisely placed the 1560 kg CARTOSAT-1 and the 42 kg HAMSAT into a 620 km high polar SSO.
The GSLV was successful on its very first test flight. After its successful second flight on 8 May 2003, it was commissioned. This was followed by the success of its third flight on 20 September 2004. The GSLV is capable of launching 2,000 kg class satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). The development of Indigenous cryogenic stage to be used as the third stage of GSLV made further progress during the year. The cryogenic engine which forms part of this stage, has already been successfully qualified. GSLV-Mk III, a new version of GSLV and capable of launching spacecraft weighing upto 4 tonnes to GTO is under development.
An elaborate launch infrastructure exists at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota Island on the East Coast of India which is about 100 km from Chennai. Sriharikota is located at 13$dGNorth latitude. From here, satellites can be launched into a variety of orbital inclinations starting from 18$dG and extending upto 99$dG. Full-fledged facilities for satellite integration, assembly and launch exist there. Sriharikota also houses a Telemetry, Tracking and Command network for tracking satellites andmonitoring them. The newly built Second Launch Pad at SDSE SHAR as a redundancy to the existing launch pad, and to cater to the requirement of GSLV-Mk III as well as other future launch vehicles, was commissioned on 5 May 2005 with the successful launch of PSLV-C6.

One of the important features of the Indian Space Programme since its inception has been the co-operative approach with the Indian industries. The Department of Space (DOS) has established linkages with about 500 industries in small, medium and large-scale sectors, either through procurement contracts, know-how transfers or provision of technical consultancy. Because of its association with the space programme, the space industry is now capable of meeting the challenges in terms of adopting advanced technologies or handling complex manufacturing jobs.
The ISRO has an active programme to interact with academic and research institutions all over the country for the benefit of our space programme. In this regard, the Sponsored Research Programme (RESPOND) is an important component of DOS. Under RESPOND, DOS support research and educational activities at universities, individual colleges, and at the Indian Institutes of Technology as well as other research institutions. During the year 2005-2006, 13 projects were successfully completed and 62 new projects were initiated at 42 academic institutions comprising universities, colleges and research institutions. In addition to research projects, DOS supported 73 conferences, symposia, educational and promotional activities in the areas of importance to ISRO, besides providing support to ISRO-institutional chairs at reputed institutions.
From the days of its inception, ISRO has had a very good record of international cooperation. It has Memoranda of Understanding / Agreements with 26 countries / space agencies. A UN sponsored Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTE-AP) set up in India has trained more than 400 personnel of the Asia-pacific region. during the year, CSSTE-AP completed 10 years. In addition, ISRO provides training in space applications to personnel of developing countries through its Sharing of Experience in Space (SHARES) programme. ISRO has launched scientific payloads of other space agencies like Modular Opto-electronic Scanner of DLR, Germany that was flown on IRS-P3 spacecraft and the data is being shared by scientists of DLR, India and the US. It has a co-operative agreement with NASA / NOAA for the reception of meteorological data from INSAT spacecraft by those agencies.
Megha-Tropiques is a joint satellite mission of ISRO and French Space Agency CNES for atmospheric studies. The satellite will be built and launched by ISRO and CNES will develop two of the payloads and the third payload jointly with ISRO. At the same time, scientific instruments developed in the United States, Germany, Sweden, UK and Bulgaria will be launched on board India's Chadrayaan-1 spacecraft. This apart, an Italian scientific instrument will be included onboard India's OCEANSAT. 2 satellite. Instruments for astronomical observation jointly developed with Israel and Canada will be flown onboard India's GSAT-4 and RISAT satellites respectively. And, an Indian scientific instrument to study solar physics and solar-terrestrial sciences will be flown onboard Russia's CORONAS-PHOTON satellite.
India has also set up three local User Terminals and a Mission Control Centre for the international COSPAS / SARSAT programme for providing distress alert and position location service. A search and Rescue Transponder is included in INSAT-3A spacecraft. India is a signatory to the International Charter on Disaster Management and is providing remote sensing data for the same.

Antrix, the commercial front of the Department of Space, is a single window agency for marketing Indian space capabilities. It is playing a key role in the worldwide availability or IRS data through Geoeye, USA. Antrix also provides IRS data processing equipment.
Antrix offers launch services using India's PSLV. Two German, one Korean and one Belgian satellites have already been successfully launched by PSLV. Through Antrix, Telemetry, Tracking and Command support from the Indian ground stations are offered. Similarly, lease of transponders from INSAT system is possible. In this regard, 11 transponders have already been leased to INTELSAT. Customers for the spacecraft components offered by Antrix include world's leading spacecraft manufacturers.
During the year, an agreement was entered into with EADS Astrium, Paris for the joint manufacture of 200 kg and 300 kg class satellite platforms for the telecommunications market. Besides, Antrix won contracts from Europe and Asia for launch services in the highly competitive international markets. After the successful development of a low cost, compact, modular and rugged Automatic Weather Station (AWS) in co-ordination with industry, the technology has been licensed to industry for regular production.
Thus, in addition to successfully developing spacecraft and launch vehicle technologies indigenously, India has also been successful in the application of satellite technology to benefit its national economy. At the same time, India has also been sharing space-based information with the international community and providing commercial space services globally.

Research facilities
Solar planetary physics, infrared astronomy, geo-cosmo physics, plasma physics, astrophysics, archaeology, and hydrology are some of the branches of study at this institute. An observatory at Udaipur also falls under the control of this institution.
Research & Development in the field of semiconductor technology, micro-electromechanical systems and process technologies relating to semiconductor processing.
The NARL carries out fundamental and applied research in Atmospheric and Space Sciences.
RRI carries out research in selected areas of physics, such as astrophysics and astronomy.
The SAC deals with the various aspects of practical use of space technology. Among the fields of research at the SAC are geodesy, satellite based telecommunications, surveying, remote sensing, meteorology, environment monitoring etc. The SEC additionally operates the Delhi Earth Station.
North Eastern-Space Applications Center
Providing developmental support to North East by undertaking specific application projects using remote sensing, GIS, satellite communication and conducting space science research.
 Test facilities
Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, and Nagercoil
The LPSC handles testing and implementation of liquid propulsion control packages and helps develop engines for launch vehicles and satellites. The testing is largely conducted at Mahendragiri. The LPSC also constructs precision transducers.
 Construction and launch facilities
The venue of eight successful spacecraft projects is also one of the main satellite technology bases of ISRO. The facility serves as a venue for implementing indigenous spacecraft in India. The satellites Ayrabhata, Bhaskara, APPLE, and IRS-1A were constructed at this site, and the IRS and INSAT satellite series are presently under development here.
With multiple sub-sites the Sriharikota island facility acts as a launching site for India's satellites. The Sriharikota facility is also the main launch base for India's sounding rockets. The centre is also home to India's largest Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant (SPROB) and houses the Static Test and Evaluation Complex (STEX).
The largest ISRO base is also the main technical centre and the venue of development of the SLV-3, ASLV, and PSLV series. The base supports India's Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station and the Rohini Sounding Rocket program. This facility is also developing the GSLV series.
TERLS is used to launch sounding rockets.
 Tracking and control facilities
This network receives, processes, archives and distributes the spacecraft health data and payload data in real time. It can track and monitor satellites up to very large distances, even beyond the Moon.
The NRSC applies remote sensing to manage natural resources and study aerial surveying. With centres at Balanagar and Shadnagar it also has training facilities at Dehradun in form of the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing.
Bangalore (headquarters) and a number of ground stations throughout India and World.
Software development, ground operations, Tracking Telemetry and Command (TTC), and support is provided by this institution. ISTRAC has Tracking stations throughout the country and all over the world in Port Louis (Mauritius), Bearslake (Russia), Biak (Indonesia) and Brunei.
Geostationary satellite orbit raising, payload testing, and in-orbit operations are performed at this facility. The MCF has earth stations and Satellite Control Centre (SCC) for controlling satellites. A second MCF-like facility named 'MCF-B' is being constructed at Bhopal.
 Human resource development
Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) under National Remote Sensing Centre, Department of Space, Govt. of India is a premier training and educational institute set up for developing trained professional in the field of Remote Sensing, Geoinformatics and GPS Technology for Natural Resources, Environmental and Disaster Management.
The institute offers undergraduate and graduate courses in Aerospace engineering, Avionics and Physical Sciences.
IIA is a premier institute devoted to research in astronomy, astrophysics and related physics.
Development and Educational Communication Unit
The centre works for education, research, and training, mainly in conjunction with the INSAT program. The main activities carried out at DECU include GRAMSAT and EDUSAT projects. The Training and Development Communication Channel (TDCC) also falls under the operational control of the DECU.
 Commercial wing
The marketing agency under government control markets ISRO's hardware, manpower, and software.[41]
Other facilities include:
 Vision for the future
ISRO plans to launch a number of new-generation Earth Observation Satellites in the near future. It will also undertake the development of new launch vehicles and spacecraft. ISRO has stated that it will send unmanned missions to Mars and Near-Earth Objects.
Forthcoming Satellites
Satellite Name
Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT) is a microwave remote sensing satellite carrying a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
The satellite weighing around 1850 kg is in the final stages of development for a launch in 2011 into a 536 km orbit with 25 days repetitivity with an added advantage of 12 days inner cycle for Coarse Resolution ScanSAR mode.
ISRO and French National Space Centre (CNES) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2004-05 for the development and implementation of Megha-Tropiques (Megha meaning cloud in Sanskrit and Tropiques meaning tropics in French). The launch of Megha-Tropiques is planned during mid 2011.Megha-Tropiques is aimed at understanding the life cycle of convective systems and to their role in the associated energy and moisture budget of the atmosphere in the tropical regions. The satellite will carry an Imaging Radiometer Microwave Analysis and Detection of Rain and Atmospheric Structures (MADRAS), a six channel Humidity Sounder (SAPHIR), a four channel Scanner for Radiation Budget Measurement (SCARAB) and GPS Radio Occultation System (GPS-ROS).
INSAT-3D is a meteorological satellite, planned to be launched on-board GSLV in 2011. The satellite has many new technology elements like star sensor, micro stepping Solar Array Drive Assembly (SADA) to reduce the spacecraft disturbances and Bus Management Unit (BMU) for control and telecomm and/telemetry function. It also incorporates new features of bi-annual rotation and Image and Mirror motion compensations for improved performance of the meteorological payloads.
The Satellite for ARGOS and ALTIKA (SARAL) is a joint ISRO-CNES mission and planned to be launched during 2011. The Ka band altimeter, ALTIKA, provided by CNES payload consists of a Ka-band radar altimeter, operating at 35.75 GHz. A dual frequency total power type microwave radiometer (23.8 and 37 GHz) is embedded in the altimeter to correct tropospheric effects on the altimeter measurement. Doppler Orbitography and Radio-positioning Integrated by Satellite (DORIS) on board enables precise determination of the orbit. A Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA) helps to calibrate the precise orbit determination system and the altimeter system several times throughout the mission.
ASTROSAT is a first dedicated Indian Astronomy satellite mission, which will enable multi-wavelength observations of the celestial bodies and cosmic sources in X-ray and UV spectral bands simultaneously. The scientific payloads cover the Visible (3500-6000 Ã…), UV (1300-3000 Ã…), soft and hard X-ray regimes (0.5-8 keV; 3-80 keV). The uniqueness of ASTROSAT lies in its wide spectral coverage extending over visible, UV, soft and hard X-ray regions.
The primary goal of GSAT-6/INSAT-4E, which is a Multimedia broadcast satellite, is to cater to the consumer requirements of providing entertainment and information services to vehicles through Digital Multimedia consoles and to the Multimedia mobile Phones. The satellite carries a 5 spot beam BSS and 5 spot beam MSS. It will be positioned at 83º East longitude with a mission life of 12 years. The launch is planned on-board GSLV during 2011.
GSAT-7/INSAT-4F is a multi-band satellite carrying payloads in UHF, S-band, C-band and Ku band. It is planned to be launched during 2011 on board GSLV and positioned at 74º East. The satellite weighs 2330 kg with a payload power of 2000W and mission life of 9 years.
GSAT-8/INSAT-4G is a Ku band satellite carrying 18 Ku band transponders. It will also carry a GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) payload and planned to be launched during 2011 with a mission life of 12 years and positioned at 55º E longitude. This I-3K satellite with a lift-off mass of 3150 kg and a payload power of 5300W will be launched on board ARIANE-5.
GSAT-12 is being realised as replacement INSAT-3B. The satellite will carry 12 Extended C-band transponders and will be positioned at 83º East longitude with a mission life of 7 years. The bus system is based on I-1K platform with ASIC based BMU and 64 Ah Li-ion batteries. The satellite weighs 1375 kg with a payload power of 550W and launch is planned on board PSLV during 2011.
GSAT-9 will carry 6 C band and 24 Ku band transponders with India coverage beam. The satellite is planned to be launched during 2011-12 with a mission life of 12 years and positioned at 48º East longitude. This I-2K satellite has a liftoff mass of 2330 kg and payload power of 2300 W.
GSAT-I0 will carry 12 Normal C-band, 12 Extended C-band and 12 Ku band transponders. It will also carry GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) payload. The satellite is planned to be launched during 2011 with a mission life of 15 years and positioned at 83º East longitude. This I-3K satellite with liftoff mass of 3435 kg and payload power of 4500 W will be launched on board ARIANE-5


Though ancient Indians were known to have knowledge about rocket science- it being used in during wars- it was only after independence that the process of exploring space really accelerated. It was Dr. Vikram Sarabhai who founded the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad on November 11, 1947. This was the first step that India took towards becoming a space power.
Our first biggest success was on April 19, 1975, when India launched its first satellite into space. It was launched by the Soviet Union from Kapustin Yar using a Cosmos-3M launch vehicle. The ‘Aryabhata’ was named after a 5th century Indian mathematician, who founded concepts of the numerical value zero and many astronomical calculations in around 500 AD.

After that India has sent a number of satellites into space, notably the Apple (1981), Bhaskara –I (1979) and Bhaskara –II (1981), INSAT-1 series (1A, -1B, -1C and -1D), INSAT-2 series (2A, -2B, -2C and -2D), IRS-Series (1A, -IB, -1E, -P2, -1C, -P3, -1D), Rohini (1A, 1B, 2 and 3) and Sross.

Also, India has developed various Launch vehicles that make a space programme independent and are the most important technological measure of its advancement. Prominent among them are Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV), Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

India in Space: A Timeline

1961: The government put “Space Research” under the jurisdiction of the Department of Atomic Energy

1962: Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) established with Dr. Sarabhai as Chairman; Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) also formed

Nov 1963: TERLS launched the first sounding rocket

1969: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) formed

1972-76: ISRO conducts air-borne remote sensing experiments

April 19, 1975: Aryabhata- the first Indian satellite launched


• Bhaskara-I fired into space on June 7

• On August 10, ISRO launched SLV-3 with Rohini Technology Payload on board. However, the satellite could not be placed in orbit.

• The Second Experimental launch of SLV-3; Rohini satellite successfully placed in orbit on July 18.


• An experimental geo-stationary communication satellite - APPLE successfully launched on June 19.

• Bhaskara-II launched on November 20, 1981.

(The Bhaskara satellites are named after a 17th Century Indian astronomer and was meant to study ocean and land surface data at a cost Rs. 65 million)

From 1982 to 2003, India sent a series of INSAT or the Indian National Satellite System into space proving its mastery in space science. INSAT is a series of multipurpose Geo-Stationary satellites for telecommunications, broadcasting and meteorology needs.

April 10, 1982: INSAT-1A launched

1983: INSAT-1B, launched on August 30

1984: Indo-Soviet manned space mission on April 1984

July 21, 1988: INSAT-1C

June 12, 1990: INSAT-1D

July 10, 1992: INSAT-2A launched

July 23, 1993: INSAT-2B

December 7, 1995: INSAT-2C

June 4, 1997: INSAT-2D

April 3, 1999: INSAT-2E launched by Ariane from Kourou French Guyana

May 26, 1999: Indian Remote Sensing Satellite, IRS-P4 (OCEANSAT), launched by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C2) along with Korean KITSAT-3 and German DLR-TUBSAT from Sriharikota

March 22, 2000: INSAT-3B launched by Ariane from Kourou French Guyana,

October 22, 2001: PSLV-C3 successfully launched three satellites -- Technology Experiment Satellite (TES) of ISRO, BIRD of Germany and PROBA of Belgium.

January 24, 2002: Successful launch of INSAT-3C by Ariane from Kourou French Guyana

September 12, 2002: PSLV-C4 successfully launched KALPANA-1 satellite from Sriharikota


• INSAT-3A launched by Ariane from Kourou French Guyana, (April 10, 2003). • Successful launch of INSAT-3E on September 28, 2003. • ISRO`s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C5, successfully launched RESOURCESAT-1 (IRS-P6) satellite from Sriharikota(October 17, 2003).

2004: Maiden operational flight of GSLV (GSLV-F01) launched EDUSAT from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota (September 20, 2004)

2005: • PSLV-C6 carries CARTOSAT-1 and HAMSAT satellites from Sriharikota on May 5, 2005 into orbit.

• Launch of INSAT-4A by Ariane from Kourou French Guyana, (December 22, 2005).


• ISRO launches India’s CARTOSAT-2 and Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE-1) and Indonesia’s LAPAN-TUBSAT and Argentina’s PEHUENSAT-1 at one go on January 10, 2007.

• Successful recovery of SRE-1 from Bay of Bengal after it reenter the earth’s atmosphere on January 22, 2007 – a crucial operation that will help India in mastering the know how of reentering earth atmosphere from space.

• Successful launch of INSAT-4B by Ariane-5 from Kourou French Guyana, (March 12, 2007).

• PSLV-C8 successfully launched Italian astronomical satellite AGILE from Sriharikota on April 23.

• Successful launch of GSLV with INSAT-4CR on board from SDSC SHAR on September 2.


• PSLV-C10 successfully launches TECSAR satellite under a commercial contract with Antrix Corporation on January 21, 2008.

• PSLV-C9 successfully launches CARTOSAT-2A, IMS-1 and 8 foreign satellites from Sriharikota on April 28.
·  Chandrayaan-1 launched by a modified version of the PSLV XL on 22 October 2008 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh at 06:23 IST
·  Moon Impact Probe lands on Moon`s south pole on November 14

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