ISRO – Making Great Strides in Space Research

From launching small rockets of just 30-70kg payloads to carrying 4,000 kg payloads to outer space, ISRO’s journey has been refreshingly audacious.

March 30, 2021

Established in 1969, ISRO has won several global accolades and recognition for its dedication to provide the nation, cost effective space-based services.

ISRO has contributed towards the nation’s endeavour to be Aatmanirbhar or self-reliant by launching several satellites.

ISRO’s ambitious ‘Vision 2025’ for its Space Research Program includes initiatives around the development of reusable launch vehicles, satellite-based communication and navigation systems etc.

Under the Union Budget 2020-21, the Government allocated around US$901.70mn to the Ministry of Science and Technology, the largest ever allocation in the field of Science and Technology.

The 6th largest space agency in the world, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) acts as a focal point when it comes to building space technology for the nation’s development. The many scientists, researchers and engineers are constantly innovating with ground-breaking developments in space science research and planetary exploration.

The foundation of ISRO was laid in 1962, when the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was first established with Dr. Vikram Sarabhai at its helm. This organisation transformed into its current nomenclature, ISRO, in 1969. Over the years, ISRO has been recognized and won global accolades for its dedication to provide the nation with cost effective space-based services.

Cumulatively, ISRO has launched 328 satellites from 33 different countries as of 10th February 2021. The economic benefits amounted up-to an impressive US$25mn. Through its efforts, ISRO has not only contributed to the country’s economy, but it is viewed as a game changer in the field of space and technology around the world.

ISRO: Gaining Momentum through a bee-hive of Opportunities

As part  of its ambitious ‘Vision 2025’ for its Space Research Program, ISRO has envisioned initiatives around the development of reusable launch vehicles, human space flight, enhanced imaging capability, satellite-based communication and navigation systems, and planetary exploration.

Here are some of the notable missions and programmes under this:

The Earth Observation Programme

This mission brings state-of-the-art Indian remote sensing (IRS) satellites such as Resourcesat, Cartosat, Oceansat in addition to Radar Imaging Satellite and Geo-Imaging Satellite. It also covers the weather or climate satellites through the INSAT-3DR missions.

The Satellite Communication Programme

INSAT/GSAT communication satellites for telecommunication, television broadcasting, direct-to-home services, search and rescue, tele-education, telemedicine, etc. were launched via this program.

Launch Vehicle development programme

Includes next generation GSLV Mark-III launch vehicle missions in addition to Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

The Satellite Navigation

Programme consists of seven Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) along with associated ground segment. This is focused on location-based services intended to provide accurate positional information and timing services.

Government Stands by ISRO’s Missions & Programmes

By successfully launching several indigenously designed satellite, ISRO has played a role in furthering the nation’s vision to be Aatmanirbhar or self-reliant.

Under the Union Budget 2020-21, the Government allocated around US$901.70mn to the Ministry of Science and Technology, the largest ever allocation in the field of Science and Technology. 

ISRO has also established a strong relationship with several industrial public and private enterprises, to implement its space projects.

The Union Minister of State, Atomic Energy and Space said that US$123.54 mn was allocated to ISRO in the FY2020-21, primarily for developing and launching satellites. ISRO proposes to launch 36 missions including satellites and launch vehicles for FY 2020-21.

ISRO’s ground plan for FY2020-21 is given in the table below:
MissionsLaunches
Earth observation satellite10
Communication satellite3
Navigation satellite2
Space science satellite3
 Technology Demonstration1
 PSLV10
GSLV MK II3
GSLV MK III1
Small Satellite Launch Vehicle2
 Gaganyaan (Unmanned)1

Missions to Remember: ISRO’s Success Stories

India’s Mission to Mars

ISRO’s  Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)  marks India’s first plunge into the interplanetary space. The mission will  entail the  exploration and observation of Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy as well as Martian atmosphere. In addition, the mission will also launch a specific search for methane in the Martian atmosphere since this will shed light on the possibility or the past existence of life on the planet.

Launched on November 05 2013, the MOM successfully inserted into Mars orbit on September 24, 2014. This was the first time that an Indian spacecraft to successfully survived Van Allen belt crossing 39 times. This was also the first spacecraft that was able to escape the Sphere of Influence of Earth and orbit the Sun. 

LVM3-X/CARE Mission

On December 18, 2014, the first experimental suborbital flight of India’s latest generation Launch Vehicle- LVM3, was executed from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. The Crew Module CARE was injected at an altitude of 126km.

AstroSat 

The first dedicated Indian astronomy mission aims to simultaneously study celestial sources in X-ray, optical and UV spectral bands. With AstroSat it is now possible to observe, at simultaneous multi-wavelength, various astronomical objects with a single satellite.

AstroSat launch on PSLV, Sept 2015

The Latest at ISRO 

Amazonia-1

PSLV-C51 (Amazonia-1), PSLV-C49/EOS-01 & GSAT-30 missions are the latest recent missions launched by ISRO.

PSLV-C51, the first dedicated launch for NSIL, successfully launched Amazonia-1 and 18 Co-passenger satellites from Sriharikota.

This satellite aims to strengthen the existing infrastructure by providing remote sensing data to users for monitoring deforestation in the Amazon region and analysis of diversified agriculture across the Brazilian territory.

PSLV-C49/EOS-01
PSLV-C49

In its in its 51st  flight,  (PSLV-C49) India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully launched EOS-01 along with nine international customer satellites. This launch took place from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota on November 07, 2020.

EOS-01 is an earth observation satellite which was developed to purvey applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.

GSAT-30
GSAT-30 spacecraft

On January 17, 2020, Ariane-5 VA-251 successfully launched India’s telecommunication satellite GSAT-30 into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) from the Kourou launch base in French Guiana.

GSAT-30, which was configured on ISRO’s I-3K Bus structure is designed to provide communication services from Geostationary orbit in C and Ku bands. This has been modelled on ISRO’s earlier INSAT/GSAT satellite series.

ISRO’s Ties Across the Globe

India and ISRO have signed various cooperative agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with other countries and organizations including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Tunisia, Korea Aerospace Research Institute for cooperation, among others.

The focus of these partnerships have been on areas such as remote sensing of the earth, airborne synthetic aperture radar, maritime domain awareness, satellite communication, launch services, space exploration, space law and capacity building.

ISRO shares its expertise, experience and services in the application of space technology, via various courses and incubation centers that are set-up across the nation. This has benefited over 1100 people from 52 countries.

Recently, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Saudi Space Commission held a bilateral dialogue contemplating the signing a MoU for space cooperation.

While ISRO is constantly innovating, adopting next-gen technologies and interplanetary exploratory missions anchored by Government support will help promote it and enable it to excel further.