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)
• 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
Compilation: Anil Satapathy