What are the major Indian Space Programs? What are the important Milestones in the Indian Space Program? Read here to know more.
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is the nodal agency and flag bearer in the Indian Space Program.
The Indian Space Program is guided by a probabilistic perspective. It is a regional development instrument. This built on an optical fibre network and wireless communication devices.
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Objectives of the Indian Space Program
ISRO has also contributed to science and science education in the country. The Department of Space oversees a number of dedicated research centres and independent organisations for remote sensing, astronomy and astrophysics, atmospheric sciences, and space sciences in general. the objectives of the Indian Space Program is twofold:
- Space discovery and exploration through space missions.
- Promotion of research and education related to space science in the country. E.g. Tele-education in remote areas in India.
Some of the other functions of the Indian Space Program are:
- Resource management such as mineral resources, agriculture, marine resources etc.
- Environment conservation.
- Internal security and terrorism. E.g. use of IRNSS for regional security.
- Weather forecasting.
- Disaster Management.
Communications satellites India
Communications satellites allow radio, television, and telephone transmissions to be sent live anywhere in the world. The purpose of communications satellites is to relay the signal around the curve of the Earth allowing communication between widely separated points. Communication Satellites use Microwaves and Radio waves for transmitting signals.
Indian National Satellite (INSAT) Series
- With nine operational communication satellites in Geo-stationary orbit, the Indian National Satellite (INSAT) system is one of the largest domestic communication satellite systems in the Asia-Pacific area.
- INSAT System consists of 14 operational satellites, namely – INSAT-3A, 3C, 4A, 4B, 4CR, 3DR and GSAT-6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15 and 16.
- Application of INSAT satellite includes:
- Educational TV Services
- Telemedicine Programme
- Satellite-Aided Search and Rescue
- Disaster management
- Helps in geopolitics like the SAARC satellite.
- Helps in the commercialization of space programs, like launching the communication satellites of Russia USA, etc.
Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS)
- ISRO has deployed numerous operational remote sensing satellites since IRS-1A in 1988. India now operates one of the largest constellations of remote sensing satellites.
- IRS satellite consists of CARTOSAT, OCEANSAT & RISAT (Resource Sat) Satellites
Application of IRS satellites:
- Disaster Management Support
- BioResources and Environment survey and mapping e.g. RESOURCESAT
- Cartography e.g. CARTOSAT
- Agriculture & Soil
- Rural and Urban Development e.g. National Drinking Water mission
Important Milestones in the Indian Space Program
Phase I: 1960-70 (Incipient Stage)
- Dr Vikram Sarabhai is regarded as a scientific visionary as well as the founding father of the Indian space programme.
- He recognised the potential of satellites after the launch of Sputnik in 1957. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, who considered scientific advancement as an important component of India’s future, placed space research under the jurisdiction of the Department of Atomic Energy in 1961.
- Homi Bhabha, the father of India’s atomic programme, then founded the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962, with Dr Sarabhai as Chairman.
- The Indian space programme began establishing itself with the launch of sounding rockets in 1962, which was aided by India’s geographical proximity to the equator.
- Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) was built near Thiruvananthapuram in south Kerala.
- India developed an indigenous technology of sounding rockets called the Rohini Family of sounding rockets.
- The India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was established in 1969, and the Department of Space was established in 1972.
Phase II: 1970-80
- Sarabhai had participated in an early NASA study on the viability of employing satellites for uses as diverse as direct television broadcasting.
- India began developing satellite technology in anticipation of future remote sensing and communication requirements.
- India’s first venture into space occurred in 1975, with the launch of their satellite Aryabhata by a Soviet launcher.
- By 1979, the SLV was ready to launch from the Sriharikota Rocket Launching Station, a newly created second launch site (SRLS).
- The first launch in 1979 failed due to a control malfunction in the second stage. This problem had been solved by 1980.
- The first indigenous satellite launched by India was called Rohini.
Phase III: 1980-90
- Following the success of the SLV, ISRO was eager to begin work on a satellite launch vehicle capable of placing a truly useful satellite into polar orbit.
- In 1987, the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV) was tested, but the launch failed. After modest adjustments, another launch attempt was made in 1988, which also failed.
Phase IV: 1990-2000
- It was not until 1992 that the first successful launch of the ASLV took place.
- Since its first successful launch in 1994, the PSLV has become the workhorse launch vehicle, launching both remote sensing and communications satellites into orbit, establishing the world’s largest cluster, and giving unique data to Indian industry and agriculture.
Developments after 2000
- In 2001, the first development flight of the GSLV took place.
- As the first attempt at exploring the solar system, India pursued a mission to send unmanned probes to the moon in 2008 namely Chandrayaan.
- ISRO has entered the lucrative industry of launching foreign payloads from Indian soil using its rockets.
- After 2010, ISRO embarked on the following programmes: Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), and next-generation GSLV Mark-III launch vehicle missions are part of the launch vehicle development programme.
- The Earth Observation programme includes cutting-edge Indian remote sensing (IRS) satellites such as Resourcesat, Cartosat, Oceansat, Radar Imaging Satellite, Geo-Imaging Satellite, and weather/climate satellites such as INSAT-3DR missions.
- The satellite navigation programme consists of a constellation of seven Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) satellites and an associated ground segment designed to deliver accurate positional and timing information.
India’s Manned Mission to Space
- Gaganyaan is a mission by the ISRO scheduled to be launched in 2023. Under this mission:
- Three flights will be sent into orbit.
- There will be two unmanned flights and one human spaceflight.
- The Gaganyaan system module, known as the Orbital Module, would house three Indian astronauts, one of them will be a woman.
- For 5-7 days, it will circle the Earth in a low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 300-400 km.
- In addition, to assure crew safety during the Gaganyaan mission, ISRO will perform two unmanned ‘Abort Missions’ in 2022.
Scramjet (Supersonic Combusting Ramjet) engine
- In August 2016, ISRO has successfully conducted the Scramjet (Supersonic Combusting Ramjet) engine test.
- The Scramjet engine uses Hydrogen as fuel and Oxygen from the atmospheric air as the oxidiser.
- This test was the maiden short-duration experimental test of ISRO’s Scramjet engine with a hypersonic flight at Mach 6.
- ISRO’s Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), a futuristic-sounding rocket, served as the solid rocket booster for the supersonic testing of Scramjet engines.
- The new propulsion system will complement ISRO’s reusable launch vehicle that would have a longer flight duration.
- IN-SPACe was launched to provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure.
- It serves as a single point of contact between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and anyone interested in participating in space-related activities or utilising India’s space resources.
NewSpace India Limited (NSIL):
- It is a Central Public Sector Enterprise of the Government of India that was founded in 2019 and is managed by the Department of Space.
- It is ISRO’s commercial arm, and its major purpose is to enable Indian enterprises to engage in high-technology space-related operations.
- It is headquartered in Bengaluru.
Indian Space Association (ISpA):
- ISpAaspires to be the collective voice of the Indian Space industry. ISpA will be represented by leading domestic and global corporations that have advanced capabilities in space and satellite technologies.
- The 53rd flight of PSLV-C51 marked the first dedicated mission for New Space India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO.
- Amazonia-1, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) optical earth observation satellite, would offer users remote sensing data for monitoring deforestation in the Amazon region and analysing diverse agriculture across the Brazilian territory.
UNITYsat (three satellites):
- They have been deployed to provide Radio relay services.
- Satish Dhawan Satellite (SDSAT) is a nanosatellite intended to study the radiation levels/space weather and demonstrate long-range communication technologies.
- Chandrayaan-3 Mission: Chandrayaan-3 is likely to be launched during the third quarter of 2022.
- Three Earth Observation Satellites (EOSs):
- EOS-4 (Risat-1A) and EOS-6 (Oceansat-3) — will be launched using ISRO’s workhorse PSLV, and the third one, EOS-2 (Microsat), will be launched in the first developmental flight of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).
- These satellites will be launched in the first quarter of 2022.
- Shukrayaan Mission: The ISRO is also planning a mission to Venus, tentatively called Shukrayaan.
- Own Space Station: India is planning to launch its own space station by 2030, joining the league of the US, Russia, and China to an elite space club
- XpoSat: Space observatory, XpoSat, designed to study cosmic x-rays.
- Aditya L1 mission: It will see an Indian spacecraft going 1.5 million km away to the L1 or Lagrangian point between the Sun and Earth.
- There are five Lagrangian points between any two celestial bodies on the satellite where the gravitational attraction of both bodies is equivalent to the force required to keep the satellite in orbit without spending fuel, implying a parking area in space.
Article Written by: Remya