Indian Space Programme
Like the rest of the mankind Indians have also always wondered about their relationships with the deep mysterious space. Through mythological stories of Narada and Devas ancient India tried to connect itself with the deep space. Sage Nara& was made to shuttle between planets and galaxies yonder. Indian Astrology was another attempt to link up with planets and constellations.
The stories of UFOs also reveal man’s wish to be a part of the space and the worlds there in deep space through alien visitors. From the very beginning of the civilization space flights have fired the imagination of earthlings.
In the modern age India can claim to have stepped into space through Indian origin girls, Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams having gone on NASA space missions.
The real modern space travel began with Russia launching Sputnik into outer orbit in 1959. Since then space programmes of USA and Russia made rapid progress through frantic’ researches. Finally U.S.A. was able to land its astronauts on moon in 1969. Then came space stations and space shuttles. Spaceships like Mir, Viking, Voyager, Galileo, Ulysses etc. wrote new chapters in the history of man’s quest into space. It is hoped that reliable space launches would provide the ‘highway’ to the solar system in this century.
Meanwhile India was busy in solving its problems of hunger and poverty. It had little scope for space adventures and little cash to spare. But by 1975 it realized that it could not ignore the importance of the space activities. The space technology had lot to contribute to the country’s progress as satellites were going to play a major role in the future. So, India started its space programme and beginning was made in 1975 when the first of its scientific satellite Aniabhatta-1 was launched into the space. It was done with the help of Russia because India had no rocket launcher of its own. But it did make India a space player.
The second satellite Bhaskara-1 was launched from Soviet cosmodrome on 7th June, 1979. The experimental satellite contained instruments for carrying out remote sensing experiments. It was followed by Bhaskara-II in 1981. The first satellite to be launched from the Indian soil was Rohini, in 1980. It used an indigenous SLV-3 vehicle. It was a historic moment for Indian space endeavor. Rohini was launched from Sriharikota, situated in Andhra Pradesh. Thus, India became the sixth country in the world to possess satellite launching capacity after Russia, USA, France, China and Japan, in that order.
India’s space programme is planned and executed by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization). It has its own rocket launching facility at Thumba which is situated near the capital of Kerala. It has perfect locational advantage of being close to magnetic equator. It is a unique location in the entire world. ISRO develops and fabricates rockets and satellites.
In 1983 a multipurpose operational satellite system was established by the name INSAT (Indian National Satellite System); It has successfully launched INSAT series of satellites. The most advanced of them was INSAT-2C. Another series of satellites sent up were for remote sensing mission. This series began with IRS-IA in 1988. Its third launch IRS-IC had ‘better spectral, plus spatial resolutions, more revisits, stereo viewing and on-board facilities. Then IRS-ID, IRSP-4, INSAT-3B, GSLV-D1 and D-2 followed in that sequence. The rocket and satellite launch computer technologies evolved by ISRO led to their military applications.
Intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBM) became possible to fabricate. The result was that India developed its own range of missiles like Prithvi, Nag, Akash, Agni etc. The combination of rocketry, space research and missile technology have opened the path for continuous space exploration and self-reliance. In the meantime, India opted for nuclear weapons for self-defence. Now India is truly a nuclear power with missile systems to deliver the blow if and when required. It has proved the worth of the technological talents of Indian scientists.
Among the developing nations, in the field of developing and manufacturing SLVs and allied components India is the leader alongside China. India has developed Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLV) capable of launching multiple payloads into a polar sun synchronous orbit. In this regard, on 10th January, 2007 ISRO reached a new milestone when its PSLV-7 successfully put 4 satellites in the orbit, two of them for foreign clients. It also experimented with space capsule recovery.
ISRO ambitiously planned to develop and manufacture Geosynchronous Space Launch Vehicle (GSLV) incorporating cryo-engine technology capable of placing 2,500 kg satellites in the geosynchronous transfer orbit. However, the GSLV launched in July 2006 failed to go up due to some fault. It was a setback but our scientists are not discouraged. They are preparing to launch another GSLV as soon as possible. Every country has faced such failures. A 2007 launch duly made amends and it put an Italian payload in orbit space capsule recovery experiment also proved successful.
For the purpose of providing space based services in the areas of telecommunication, IT, BPO, meteorology, resources survey and management the space programme is a must. In our case it is infact imperative since India has emerged as IT giant of the world. A well-integrated and self- reliant programme must go on. Satellites are proving, great help in providing advance disaster warning, search and rescue missions, distance education in remote areas. The remote sensing providing vital inputs for agriculture soil, forestry, land-water resources, minerals, environment, crops, marine development, and in drought and flood disaster managements. Ground positioning, thermal or infrared mapping are the other uses of satellites.
India has ambitious plan of sending a lunar mission called ‘Chandrayan’ by 2010. Sending up an Indian astronaut in an Indian rocket to space is another dream. The scientists, technologists, engineers and technicians working in our space programme centres are talented enough to realize those dreams. Our country is sure to achieve great successes in future in space missions.