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Analysis of Yojana Magazine : Journey of India as a Space Power


Today, India is a world leader in the satellite-based remote sensing area and future-readiness is the key to maintaining an edge in technology and ISRO endeavours to optimise and enhance its technologies as the needs and ambitions of the country evolve.

Chronology of Formation of  ISRO

1962- Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR)
1963- first sounding rocket launch from Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS)
1963-Setting up of Space Science & Technology Centre [SSTC, present-day VSSC (Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre)]
1966-Experimental Satellite Communication Earth Station [ESCES, present-day SAC (Space Applications Centre)
1969-The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was formed superseding INCOSPAR.

Chronology of ISRO’s Satellite Program

  • The 70s were the phase during which several experimental satellites were built, including Aryabhata, which was launched on 19 April 1975, from the former Soviet Union.
  • Aryabhata laid a firm foundation for the later immensely successful Indian Satellite Programme.
  • Bhaskara-I and II, the two experimental earth observation satellites, provided the rich experience and the confidence to build complex operational remote sensing satellites.
  • Additionally, APPLE- Ariane Passenger PayLoad Experiment- It is India’s first experimental communication satellite, although launched by the European Ariane rocket, reached its final geosynchronous orbital home in June 1981, with the help of a rocket motor developed in India.
  • SITE Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (1975-76)
  • STEP- Satellite Telecommunication Experimental Project (1977 -79)
  • INSAT (Indian National Satellite) series of satellites- For communication and broadcasting.
  • INSAT-Lb- India’s first multipurpose operational satellite. It was launched in 1983, demonstrating its ability to bring about a rapid and major revolution in India’s telecommunications, television broadcasting, and weather-forecasting domains.
  • IRS-l A- The first operational satellite built in India. It was demonstrated in 1988. It started imaging the earth. It showed India’s ability to design, build, and maintain a complex remote sensing satellite.
  • INSAT-2
  • High Throughput Satellites (HTS) such as GSAT-ll, GSAT-29, and GSAT-19 are supporting the Digital India campaign by boosting the broadband connectivity to the rural and inaccessible Gram Panchayats in the country.
  • MARS Mission
  • Chandrayaan-2

Chronology of Satellites in Space Transport Domain

  • Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 (SLV-3) project in the early 1970s- The first indigenous experimental satellite launch vehicle, that served as the beginning of an enduring partnership between ISRO and Indian industries. It was an all solid, four-stage launch vehicle.
  • Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle(ASLV-) project in the early 1980s.
  • Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) – Launched in 1994. The space transportation domain, with the successful advent of the PSLV, witnessed a quantum jump in the indigenous launch capabilities. On 15 February 2017, PSLV created a world record by successfully placing 104 satellites in orbit during a single launch.
  • Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) – Launched in the mid-1980S. Cryogenic technology. With the successful qualification of the indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) in the GSLV-D5 flight on 5 January 2014, ISRO demonstrated its mastery of cryogenic rocket propulsion. Including the one in January 2014, the vehicle has had six successful flights over the past decade.
  • The next-generation launch vehicle of ISRO, with a capability for putting 4T payload in GTO, came in the form of GSLV-Mk III designed with two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster, and a cryogenic upper stage.
  • LVM3- XI CARE Mission, the first experimental suborbital flight of GSLV Mk III, was on 18 December 2014 and launched the Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE). The CARE module began its return journey and a little later, re-entered the earth’s atmosphere.
  • GSLV-Mk III d- It is a three-stage heavy-lift launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage. It was chosen to launch the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft.

What is a cryogenic rocket stage?

  • A Cryogenic rocket stage is more efficient and provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant it burns compared to solid and earth-storable liquid propellant rocket stages.
  • Specific impulse (a measure of the efficiency) achievable with cryogenic propellants (liquid Hydrogen and liquid Oxygen) is much higher compared to earth storable liquid and solid propellants, giving it a substantial payload advantage.
  • However, the cryogenic stage is technically a very complex system compared to solid or earth-storable liquid propellant stages due to its use of propellants at extremely low temperatures and the associated thermal and structural problems.
  • Oxygen liquifies at -183 deg C and Hydrogen at -253 deg C. The propellants, at these low temperatures, are to be pumped using turbo pumps running at around 40,000 rpm. It also entails complex ground support systems like propellant storage and filling systems, cryo engine and stage test facilities, transportation and handling of cryo fluids and related safety aspects.
  • ISRO’s Cryogenic Upper Stage Project (CUSP) envisaged the design and development of the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage to replace the stage procured from Russia and used in GSLV flights.

Brief History of Indian Space Program


  • The government of India established the Department of Space in 1972 to promote the development and application of space science and technology for socio-economic benefits. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the primary agency under the Department of Space for executing space programmes.
  • During the seventies, India undertook demonstration of space applications for communication, broadcasting and remote sensing; designed and built experimental satellites – Aryabhata, Bhaskara, APPLE and Rohini – and experimental Satellite Launch Vehicles – SLV-3 and ASLV.
  • Today, India has established space systems that form an important element of the national infrastructure. India successfully sent its Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft to the moon in November 2008 and became the fourth individual country to send a probe to the lunar surface.
  • India’s 100th Space Mission took place in September 2012 during which the country’s workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) successfully placed French SPOT-6 and Japanese PROITERES satellites in the required orbits.
  • In September 2014, India successfully placed an unmanned spacecraft in an orbit around planet Mars.
  • AstroSat, launched by PSLV in September 2015, is the first dedicated Indian astronomy mission aimed at studying celestial sources in X-ray, optical, and UV spectra bands simultaneously.
  • The Chandrayaan-2 Mission- India’s second mission to Moon was launched in 2019.

About IRNSS Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS): NavIC

  • It is an independent regional navigation satellite system being developed by India.
  • It is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1500 km from its boundary, which is its primary service area.
  • An Extended Service Area lies between primary service area and area enclosed by the rectangle from Latitude 30 deg South to 50 deg North, Longitude 30 deg East to 130 deg East.
  • IRNSS will provide two types of services, namely, Standard Positioning Service (SPS) which is provided to all the users and Restricted Service (RS), which is an encrypted service provided only to the authorised users.
  • The IRNSS System is expected to provide a position accuracy of better than 20 m in the primary service area.

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