The credit for India’s progress in space goes to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Headed by A.S Kiran Kumar, ISRO was formed in the year 1969. It was the result of the joint efforts of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and veteran scientist Vikram Sarabhai. ISRO was the offspring of the Indian National Committee for Space Research which was established in 1962. The space agency faced numerous problems in the beginning. These included mainly financial and technological constraints.
It started its journey with experimental satellites. Aryabhatta was the first Satellite launched by ISRO from Soviet Union in the year 1975. Other initial satellites included Apple, Bhaskara and Rohini. It performed satellite application experiments as well. Satellite Instructional Television Experiment was one of them. It was an experiment in education television which was conducted with the help of America. ISRO had a very modest beginning as far as its launch vehicles are concerned. It started off with vehicle such as ASLV and SLV- 3. However, success started pouring in after the introduction of indigenous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle(PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle(GSLV). ISRO’s primary spaceport is Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. With the vision to ‘harness space technology for national development, ISRO has made India proud worldwide.
ISRO in its long history had its own share of issues and problems. Such as multiple failures of launching the cryogenic based rockets and the failure of PSLV and GSLV launches. However, it worked towards their solution and currently is one the leading space agencies of the world. From amongst its successful mission, it is important to mention the Mangalyaan and Chandrayaan missions.
India launched its first Mar’s Orbiter Mission(MOM) also known as Mangalyaan on September 2014. With this, it made a world record of becoming the first country to complete the maiden Mars mission and also the fourth to venture into the planet. Since then Mangalyaan has sent many images of the red planet. Second is Chandrayaan. As the name suggests it is the mission to the moon. This is India’s Lunar Exploration Program. Its first mission, Chandrayaan-1 was launched in October 2008 and was a huge success. It made the stunning discovery of the presence off water on Moon. Chandrayaan 2 is expected to launch in the present year carrying the GSLV Mk II rocket.
The latest achievement of ISRO has been the launch of 104 satellites in one mission. Out of which 96 belonged to the United States and one satellite each from Netherlands, Switzerland, Israel, Kazakhstan and UAE. No other country has hit a century till now. The last record was of Russia which launched 37 satellites in one go. Prime minister Narendra Modi also congratulated ISRO in his Man Ki Baat.
Ever since its inception ISRO has received numerous awards. It received the Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2014 by President Pranab Mukherjee. In 2015 it won the Space pioneer award during the 34th annual space development conference held in Canada. ISRO won an award for outstanding organization in 2016 from National Institute for Quality and Reliability at Chennai.
The future of ISRO looks very bright. It has a number of missions piled up for the coming years. These include the much talked about mission to Venus, Mars Orbiter Mission II and mission to the sun, Aditya I.