February 19, 2013

India’s Leap into Space

India entered the space age with the launching of the low orbit satellite Aryabhatta in 1975. In the first few years of its programme the launch vehicles were provided by the erstwhile Soviet Union. Indigenous launch vehicles were employed in the early 1980’s to send the Rohini series of satellites into space. The programme to send polar satellites into space began in late 1980’s. A series of satellites labelled IRS (Indian Remote Sensing Satellites) have been launched and this programme is expected to continue in future. The satellites have been employed for surveying, weather prediction and for carrying out experiments in space. The INSAT (Indian National Satellite) series of satellites were designed and made operational for communications and weather prediction purposes beginning in 1982. European launch vehicles have been employed in the INSAT series. India tested its geostationary launch capability in 2001 when it sent an experimental communications satellite (GSAT-1) into space. In 1984 Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian astronaut. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the umbrella organisation that runs a number of centre. Its main lauch centre at Sriharikota (SHAR) is 100 km north of Chennai. The National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) is near Hyderabad. Its national centre for research in space and allied sciences is the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) at Ahmedabad.