Space Programmes in India can be traced back to1920's. At this time in Calcutta,.scientist S.K. Mitra conducted a series of experiments leading to the sounding of the ionosphere by application of ground based radio methods. Scientists like C.V. Raman and Meghnad Saha followed with their contribution to scientific principles applicable in space sciences. Significant developments were made by Vikram Sarabhai and Homi Bhabha in 1945. It is from here onwards that coordinated space research began.Vikram Sarabhai who is known as the Father of the Indian Space Program, founded the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad. While Homi Bhabha played a main role in the establishment of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in 1945. Study of cosmic radiation, high altitude and airborne testing of instruments, deep underground experimentation at the Kolar mines (one of the deepest mining sites in the world) and studies of the upper atmosphere were just the beginning of Indian Space Programmes. These studies were carried out at research laboratories, universities and at independent locations
D.A.E. - Department of Atomic Energy is considered to be the first Government initiative in the history of Indian Space Study. It was set up on August 3, 1954 under the direct charge of the Prime Minister through a Presidential Order. Homi Bhabha became its first secretary. D.A.E. provided funding for space research throughout India. Tests on the Earth's magnetic field which were studied since the establishment of the observatory at Colaba in 1823 and aspects of meteorology continued to yield valuable information. In 1954, Uttar Pradesh state observatory was established at the foothills of the Himalayas. The Rangpur Observatory was set up in 1957 at Osmania University, Hyderabad. Both these facilities enjoyed the technical support and scientific cooperation of the United States of America.
Institutions of D.A.E.
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre
Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research
Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology
Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre
Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research
ISRO - The Indian Space Research Organisation was established on 15th August,1969. Vikarm Sarabhai is known as it's founder. It is the primary body for space research under the control of the government of India. The Department of Space operates the Indian Space Research Organisation. It is well reputed and is considered as one of the leading space research organisations in the world. ISRO has conducted a variety of operations, supported by its launch vehicle fleet which is made available to both Indian and foreign clients. ISRO has several field installations at its disposal and it cooperates with the international community as a part of several bilateral and multilateral agreements. The ISRO is headquartered in Bangalore and has operating units at twenty-two sites throughout the country that deal with space systems, propulsion, communications, telemetry and tracking, research, launches, and other facets of the space program. The major achievements of the space program have been in the area of the domestic design, production, and launching of remote sensing and communications satellites. The primary goal of the space program is to have independent remote sensing and communications satellite systems with launcher autonomy.
Indian Space Programmes
Experimental Satellite Programmes - Programmes like Aryabhatta, Bhaskara, Rohini and Apple were conducted during the 70's. India's first satellite, the Aryabhata, was launched by the Soviets in 1975. This was followed by the Rohini series of experimental satellites which were built and launched indigenously.
Operational Satellite Programmes - These include INSAT and IRS . Today, INSAT and IRS are the major programmes of ISRO.
INSAT - Indian National Satellite System is a series of multipurpose geostationary satellites launched by ISRO to satisfy the telecommunications, broadcasting, meteorology and search-and-rescue needs of India. Commissioned in 1983, INSAT is the largest domestic communication system in the Asia-Pacific Region. It is a joint venture of the Department of Space, Department of Telecommunications, India Meteorological Department, All India Radio and Doordarshan.
IRS - Indian Remote Sensing satellites are a series of earth observation satellites, built, launched and maintained by ISRO. The IRS series provides remote sensing services to the country. The Indian Remote Sensing Satellite system is the largest constellation of remote sensing satellites for civilian use in operation today in the world. All the satellites are placed in polar sun-synchronous orbit and provide data in a variety of spatial, spectral and temporal resolutions to enable several programs to be undertaken relevant to national development.
Oceansat series - Oceansat are a series of satellites to primarily study ocean, part of IRS Series. IRS P4 is also known as Oceansat-1, was launched on 27th May, 1999. On 23rd September, 2009 Oceansat-2 was launched.
Launch Vehicle Programme - India developed Satellite Launch Vehicle programme by the 1980s.
SLV - Satellite Launch Vehicle. Its first launch took place in 1979 with 2 more in each subsequent year, and the final launch in 1983. Only two of its four test flights were successful.
ASLV - Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle was a 5-stage solid propellant rocket with the capability of placing a 150 kg satellite into LEO. This project was started by the ISRO during the early 1980s to develop technologies needed for a payload to be placed into a geostationary orbit. Its design was based on SLV.The first launch test was held in 1987, and after that 3 others followed in 1988, 1992 and 1994, out of which only 2 were successful, before it was decommissioned.
PSLV - Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is an expendable launch system developed to allow India to launch its Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites into sun synchronous orbits. In April 2008, it successfully launched 10 satellites at once, breaking a world record held by Russia.
GSLV - Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle is an expendable launch system developed to enable India to launch its INSAT-type satellites into geostationary orbit and to make India less dependent on foreign rockets. At present, it is ISRO's heaviest satellite launch vehicle and is capable of putting a total payload of up to 5 tons to Low Earth Orbit.
Lunar Spacecraft Programme - India's first mission beyond Earth orbit was Chandrayaan-1, a lunar spacecraft which successfully entered the lunar orbit on November 8, 2008. It was launched using a modified version of the PSLV C11 on 22 October 2008 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. Chandrayaan-1 is also India's first mission to the moon. The unmanned lunar exploration mission includes a lunar orbiter and an impactor called the Moon Impact Probe. India launched the spacecraft. It carried high-resolution remote sensing equipment for visible, near infra-red, and soft and hard X-ray frequencies. The evidence of water molecules on the surface of the moon was found by the moon mineralogy mapper (M3) of the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and by India's own Moon Impact Probe (MIP) on-board Chandrayaan-1.
Space Capsule Recovery Programme - SCR Experiment or more commonly SRE or SRE-1 is an experimental Indian spacecraft which was launched using the PSLV C7 rocket, along with three other satellites. It remained in orbit for 12 days before re-entering the Earth's atmosphere and splashing down into the Bay of Bengal. The SRE-1 was designed to demonstrate the capability to recover an orbiting space capsule, and the technology for performing experiments in the microgravity conditions of an orbiting platform. It was also intended to test thermal protection, navigation, guidance, control, deceleration and flotation systems, as well as study hypersonic aero-thermodynamics, management of communication blackouts, and recovery operations.
Programmes Under Development - There are various programmes which will be implemented in the course of due time.
GSLV III - Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III is intended to launch heavy satellites into geostationary orbit, and will allow India to become less dependent on foreign rockets for heavy lifting. The rocket is the technological successor to the GSLV, however is not derived from its predecessor. The maiden flight is scheduled to take place in 2010.
Mars Programme - ISRO had begun preparations for a mission to Mars and had received seed money of Rs10 crore from the government.The space agency was looking at launch opportunities between 2013 and 2015. It would use its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle to put the satellite in orbit and was considering using ion-thrusters, liquid engines or nuclear power to propel it further towards Mars. The Mars mission studies had already been completed and space scientists are trying to collect scientific proposals and scientific objectives
Human Spaceflight Program - ISRO has been sanctioned a budget of Rs.12,400 crore for its human spaceflight program. According to the Space Commission which passed the budget, an unmanned flight will be launched in 2013-2014 and manned mission likely to launch by 2014-2015. If realized in the stated time-frame, India will become only the fourth nation, after the USSR, USA and China, to successfully carry out manned missions indigenously.
Solar Probe Programme - ISRO is also designing a solar probe named Aditya. This is a mini-satellite designed to study the coupling between the sun and the earth. It is planned to be launched in 2012.
IRNSS - The Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System is an autonomous regional satellite navigation system being developed by ISRO which would be under total control of Indian government. The requirement of such a navigation system is driven by the fact that access to Global Navigation Satellite Systems like GPS are not guaranteed in hostile situations. ISRO plans to launch the constellation of satellites between 2010 and 2012.
Space Programmes and Research in India has revolutionized natural resources management, weather monitoring and disaster management. It has also found application in fields like food storage and open heart surgery. The Indian Space Program has also boosted telecommunications, weather forecasting and television expansion. Much of the technology has been used in the field of education and dissemination of information. India is making rapid strides towards the international levels of space research. It has proved it's worthiness in Space Research, time and again. And its a matter of time before it will be at par with the path breakers.