ISRO recently launched the Chandrayaan-2, it's the second expedition to the moon. The main objective of this mission is to map the location and abundance of lunar water and to make a soft landing on the moon. Chandrayaan-2's orbiter 'Vikram Lander' completed it's second de-orbiting to the moon on Thursday, September 5.
ISRO is the space agency of the Government of India. The agency is known for its missions that use space technology in National interest and is considered the sixth largest space agency in the world. Dr Vikram Sarabhai was widely considered the father of the Indian space research program, and was instrumental in establishing a platform for space research programs in the country, as he was convinced that space technology can be used for "nation-building".
India formally initiated space research activities in the 1960's with the vision of Dr Vikram Sarabhai. He launched the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962. However, important developments for such initiatives were made in 1945, when Dr Homi Bhabha established the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in 1945. In 1950, he founded the Department of Atomic Energy which provided funds for space research to the Nation. In 1969, INCOSPAR was renamed ISRO and with limited resources at his disposal, in a country that was just a few decades old, Dr Vikram Sarabhai developed a space program that applied technology for socio-economic developments in the country. Notably, some parts of the first rocket ISRO launched, were transported on a bicycle.
Picture credits- ISRO website
INCOSPAR launched India's first rocket from Thumba in 1962. The Thumba region was initially a small village in the state of Kerala. Located close to the magnetic equator of the Earth, it was the ideal location for scientists to conduct atmospheric research. The first rockets were assembled in the former St. Mary Magdalene church, which now houses a space museum.
ISRO's first satellite Aryabhatta was launched on April 19 1975 in the Soviet Union. The launch came from an agreement between India and the Soviet Union. The rocket was completely designed and manufactured in India. The satellite's image appeared on the reverse of Indian Two-Rupee banknotes between 1976 and 1997. Dr APJ Abdula Kalam who was then in the rocket launch team, said the rocket components had to be brought to the launchpad via a bicycle.
India initiated its own launch vehicle programme to achieve self-reliance. The first launch took place in 1979 with two more launches in each subsequent year, and the final launch in 1983. In 1987, India initiated the ALV (Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle) and in 2001, the GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) was launched.
Picture credits- ISRO website
In 1984, India sent its citizen astronaut Rakesh Sharma to space. The program was a part of a joint manned mission between India and the Soviet Union. Rakesh Sharma spent eight days in space and spoke to the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. When was asked about how India looks from space, he replied 'Saare Jahan se acha Hindustan Humara'.
Chandrayaan-1 was the first Indian lunar probe under the Chandrayaan program. It was launched on October 22, 2008. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was the Prime Minister then, had announced the Chandrayaan in his Independence Day speech on August 15, 2003. The goal of this mission was to provide new insights into understanding the Moon's origin and evolution.
India launched 104 satellites successfully into space, becoming the first country to do so. The satellites were launched using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
With Chandrayaan-2, ISRO has added to its remarkable list of achievements and is telling the world how space technology can be used for development even with a shoestring budget.