Identifying the importance of space technology in the development of a nation, Vikram Sarabhai (whose 100th birthday was celebrated a few days ago on August 12) formed the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on August 15, 1969.
Over the years, under the guidance of several scientists and researchers, ISRO has become one of the six largest space agencies in the world. Celebrating 50 years since its formation, we trace the accomplishments of the organisation and highlight them through our archives.
1979: Built for greatness
Launched on June 7, 1979, Bhaskara (named after the ancient Indian astronomer) was the first Experimental Remote Sensing Satellite built in India. It contained sophisticated instruments and the imageries were used in the field of Hydrology and Forestry as well as for oceanographic studies.
1980: The launch that led the way
India’s first experimental satellite launch vehicle, the sleek red and white rocket, SLV-3 soared into space on July 18, 1980. With its launch, Rohini satellite, RS-1, was placed in orbit.
This paved the way for advanced launch vehicle projects such as the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and the Geosynchronous satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
1984: Our very own cosmonaut
On April 2, 1984 Rakesh Sharma flew aboard the Soyuz T11 and became the first Indian to journey into space. The crew conducted several studies, but his work was mainly in the fields of biomedicine and remote sensing.
What’s interesting is that during this mission a yoga experiment was conducted in orbit for the first time. Rakesh had studied diverse asanas before the flight and used yoga techniques to combat the debilitating effects of weightlessness.
2008: First move on the moon
ISRO’s premier moon mission made India the fourth country in the world to place its flag on the moon. It was launched on October 22, 2008 and concluded on August 29, 2009 when the communication with the spacecraft was lost.
The moon mission discovered the presence of water molecules in lunar soil and the presence of ice at the polar regions, which is considered to be one of the biggest scientific discoveries for space research across the world.
2013: Mission to Mars
The country’s first spacecraft destined for Mars, Mangalyaan was successfully launched on November 5,
2013. The space programme, which was budgeted at Rs.4.5 billion, was reported to be staggeringly cheap. Prime Minister Narendra Modi even quipped that India's real-life Martian adventure cost less than the make-believe Hollywood film Gravity.
2016: Making space history
On June 22, 2016, ISRO set
a record of launching 20 satellites in 26 minutes! These included satellites from US, Germany, Canada and Indonesia as well as two satellites from Indian universities.
The earth observation satellite Cartosat-2 was carried by the (PSLV) C-34, and the images sent by it are used for drawing maps, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring and water distribution.
2017: Setting the stage
A heavy-lift launch vehicle GSLV MkIII was developed by ISRO (since 1994) and chosen to launch the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft. The three-stage vehicle, first launched on June 5, 2017 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, is the heaviest (yet shortest) launcher in India.
2019: Dark side of the moon
Launched on July 22, 2019, Chandrayaan-2 is an Indian lunar mission that will boldly go where no country has ever gone before — the Moon’s south polar region.
The success of this mission will make it the first Indian expedition to attempt a soft landing on the lunar surface with home-grown technology. Scheduled to land on the moon on September 7, 2019, the lunar mission will be operational for one year. The mission attempts to foster new discoveries as well as propel further voyages.