APRIL 19, 1975 was a red letter day in the history of India’s space program. It was on this day that the Indian Satellite Aryabhatta was successfully launched into the space. This diamond shaped, 26 faced, blue and violet space craft weighing 360kg, was shot into a near circular orbit at an inclination of 510 to the equator, from a Soviet cosmodrome near Moscow. Designed and developed by Indian Scientists and Engineers at its Space Research Centre, Bangalore, with 90% Indian made components this first satellite is named after the fifth century Indian mathematician and astronomer Aryabhatta. Its aim is to explore the atmosphere of the outer space. Monitored by the SHAR centre, Sriharikota, it transmits important information which is received by three tracking stations – located in Russia, France and India. (Shriharikotta)
Then came Bhaskara, the second Indian satellite. It was launched on June 7, 1979, also from Russia. This 44-kg experimental satellite, named Bhaskara – I after another ancient Indian mathematician, is meant for earth observations. Carrying radiometers, infra red TV cameras, it transmit data about hydrology, forestry, oceanography and meteorology. Again on November 20, 1981 bhaskara – II an improved version of Bhaskara – I was launched. With two TV cameras and 3 frequency microwave radiometer system, it has a wider scanning range.
But it is the Rohini Satellite (RSI) that was first launched from India. It was put into orbit by the indigenously made Satellite Launch Vehicle SLV-3 on July 18, 1980. this 4 – stage solid propellant rocket was designed and developed by the Indian scientists and engineers of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. It also placed another satellite of 38 kg – Rohini (RSDI) into orbit, with the fundamental objective of evaluating the vertical performance for future programs. The launching was successful, but the satellite’s orbital life ended abruptly in 9 days instead of 90days as planned. Again another 41.5kg. Rohini – 2 (RSD 2) was put into Low – Earth – Orbit on April 17, 1983, with the help of 23 meter SLV – 3 weighing 17 tons, also built by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. The successful launching of RSD 2 completed the planned development of its SLV – 3 series and set the stage for Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicles (ASLV’S), capable of hurling into space, satellites weighing 150kg and PSLV’S capable of placing satellites in geo-synchronous orbit.
The Indian Space Application Centre (ISAC) Ahmedabad, developed a 657.5kg 3 axis, stabilized geo-station-ary satellite called APPLE. This was launched on June 19, 1981, from Kourou’s in French Guyana, by the European Space Agency’s Arian rocket, thus demonstrating again that India can accomplish great technological feats and scientific marvels. APPLE was India’s first 3-axis stabilized geo-stationary communication satellite and India is the fifth nation to obtain the distinction of developing such a satellite. USA, USSR, France and Canada alone had this distinction earlier. Though the tracking stations at Sriharikota, Ahmedabad, Fuji and Kourou, started receiving information about the altitude, temperature, etc., it is on 27th June, 8 days after its take off that the Indian scientists could successfully complete all the maneuvers to put the APPLE on its planned course. Tense moments ended and India won the applause.
But APPLE is only a take off point of a series for INSAT satellite to be launched for the purpose of telecommunication, TV and meteorological net work.
The program received a set back when its first multipurpose satellite INSAT – IA failed, 5 months after its launch on April 10, 1982. Built for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) by the Ford Aerospace of USA and launched by NASA it was, to be the first step towards the implementation of ‘Operation Space System’ for identifying social economic objectives and national requirements, combining the services of telecommunication, meteorology, TV relay and Radio broadcasting. The satellite which journeyed through 37,000km in space passing over Indonesia upset the telecommunication, TV and Radio net work programs.
Under STEP ( Satellite Telecommunication Experiment Project ), ISRO has conducted experiments in remote area communications, using transportable terminals, radio net working integration of satellite circuits, in territorial net work and multiple audio – video, transmission.
The indigenous IRS-IA, which was launched by Vostok vehicle on March 17, 1988 form USSR has a variety of uses to assess the amount of mulberry growth, or the growth of cotton, rice, groundnut and wheat. It would be possible to estimate the output well in advance, before the harvest is made.
And now, the INSAT – D series of satellites are to be launched with its own technology. With this India has joined the select band of countries that have lanunched satellites. On April 3,1989, the Soviet Rocket Souyuz zoomed into the space. It was significant to India because, on its crew was an Indian – Squadron Leader Rakhesh Sharma. And now we can proudly say, we too have a Neil Armstrong amongst us.
Thus the primary aim of Indian space program is the application of space science and technology to develop mass communication and education programs and conduct survey of natural resources through the launching of satellites, with maximum self reliance.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is responsible for planning, execution and management of Space Research. The major establishments it has are: The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) at Thiruvanathapuram; the ISRO satellite centre at Bangalore; the SHAR launching centre at Sriharikota and the Space Application Centre (SAC) at Ahmedabad. While VSSC is the main research and development centre, SHAR is its Launching Station.