Over the past several years, SpaceX has received a lot of well deserved praise and acclamation for their strides and efforts in lowering the cost of rocket launches. The world knows about NASA and SpaceX. But there is another organisation that is not nearly as celebrated is India’s Space Organisation ISRO. For decades, ISRO has slowly but consistently been driving down the cost of mission across the board including orbital missions, lunar missions, and even Martian missions. Here is the story of the space underdog, ISRO.
ISRO was officially founded on August 15,1969, but the organisation’s roots stretch back a few decades. The earliest known roots trace back to Indian Physicist S.K.Mitra in 1920’s. Mitra was most known for his experiments related to Ionosphere soundings. An Ionosphere sounding is a telecommunications technique used to identify the most optional radio frequency in a given area. Apart from Mitra, Sir C.V Raman and Maghnad Saha also completed a variety of space related experiments throughout 1920’s and 1930’s. But, the first major leap forward wouldn’t come till the 1940’s until the physical research laboratory and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research were founded. These two organisations were founded by scientists Vikram Sarabhai and Homi Bhabha respectively. Each organisation leveraged nearly universities and research laboratories to conduct experiments related to cosmic radiation, upper atmosphere studies, and higher altitude tests. In 1962, Vikram Sarabhai would convince the Prime Minister Nehru to set up the Indian National Committee for Space Research. And soon after, India began experimenting with sounding rockets which eventually led to the formation of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 1969. Since then, ISRO has developed 5 different launch vehicles with the first being the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV). The SLV was a small rocket with a payload capacity of only 40 kgs. Though with the relative simplicity, it took nearly 7 years for ISRO to develop it and unfortunately the first launch in 1979 failed. A faulty valve would end up causing the rocket to crash into the Bay of Bengal in just 317 seconds after launch. ISRO launched another SLV in the next year 1980 and this time, the launch was successful. On July 18,1980, ISRO launched Rohini RS-1 sattilite into its orbit and became the sixth nation to reach orbit. Apart from the July 1980 launch, there were two more launches held in May 1981 and April 1983, orbiting Rohini satellites carrying remote sensing sensors. The third launch was successful, but the satellite was launched in too low of an orbit which caused the satellite to deorbit 9 days after launch and fell back to the earth. The fourth launch took place in 1983, and this mission was successful that ISRO sent an earth observation satellite into the orbit. The successful culmination of the SLV-3 project showed the way to advanced launch vehicle projects such as the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and the Geosynchronous satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
As everyone, I am too excited to know about ISRO and their achievements and records. I will learn new and continue this journey in next blog. Thank you. Stay safe!