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Indian Space Research Organisation
Bharatiya Antariksh Anusandhan Sangathan
Established 15 August 1969 (1969-08-15) (44 years ago)
(Superseded INCOSPAR)
Headquarters Bengaluru, India
Primary spaceport Satish Dhawan Space Centre
Motto Space technology in the service of human kind.
Administrator K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman
Budget INR56 billion (Template:INRConvert/USD) (2013–14)[1]
Official language(s) Hindi and English

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO, /ˈɪəɛrɵ/; Hindi: भारतीय अंतरिक्ष अनुसंधान संगठन Bhāratīya Antarikṣa Anusandhāna Saṅgaṭhana) is the primary space agency of the Indian government. ISRO is amongst the six largest government space agencies in the world, along with USA's NASA, Russia's RKA, Europe's ESA, China's CNSA and Japan's JAXA. Its primary objective is to advance space technology and use its applications for national benefit.[2]

Established in 1969, ISRO superseded the erstwhile Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR). Headquartered in Bengaluru, ISRO is under the administrative control of the Department of Space, Government of India.

ISRO has achieved numerous milestones since its establishment. India's first satellite, Aryabhata, was built by ISRO and launched by the Soviet Union in 1975. Rohini, the first satellite to be placed in orbit by an Indian-made launch vehicle, SLV-3, was launched in 1980. ISRO subsequently developed two other rockets: the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for putting satellites into polar orbits and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) for placing satellites into geostationary orbits. These rockets have launched numerous communications satellites, earth observation satellites, and, in 2008, Chandrayaan-1, India's first mission to the Moon.

Over the years, ISRO has conducted a variety of operations for both Indian and foreign clients. ISRO's satellite launch capability is mostly provided by indigenous launch vehicles and launch sites. In 2008, ISRO successfully launched its first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, while future plans include indigenous development of GSLV, manned space missions, further lunar exploration, mars exploration and interplanetary probes. ISRO has several field installations as assets, and cooperates with the international community as a part of several bilateral and multilateral agreements.

Formative years

Modern space research in India is most visibly traced to the activities of scientist S. K. Mitra who conducted a series of experiments leading to the sounding of the ionosphere by application of ground based radio methods in 1920's Calcutta.[3] Later, Indian scientists like C.V. Raman and Meghnad Saha contributed to scientific principles applicable in space sciences.[3] However, it was the period after 1945 which saw important developments being made in coordinated space research in India.[3] Organised space research in India was spearheaded by two scientists: Vikram Sarabhai—founder of the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad—and Homi Bhabha, who had played a role in the establishment of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in 1945.[3] Initial experiments in space sciences included the study of cosmic radiation, high altitude and airborne testing of instruments, deep underground experimentation at the Kolar mines—one of the deepest mining sites in the world – and studies of the upper atmosphere.[4] Studies were carried out at research laboratories, universities, and independent locations.[4][5]

Government support became visible by 1950 when the Department of Atomic Energy was founded with Homi Bhabha as secretary.[5] The Department of Atomic Energy provided funding for space research throughout India.[6] Tests on the Earth's magnetic field—studied in India since the establishment of the observatory at Colaba in 1823—and aspects of meteorology continued to yield valuable information and in 1954, Uttar Pradesh state observatory was established at the foothills of the Himalayas.[5] The Rangpur Observatory was set up in 1957 at Osmania University, Hyderabad.[5] Both these facilities enjoyed the technical support and scientific cooperation of the United States of America.[5] Space research was further encouraged by the technically inclined prime minister of IndiaJawaharlal Nehru.[6] In 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik and opened up possibilities for the rest of the world to conduct a space launch.[6] The Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was found in 1962 with Vikram Sarabhai as its chairman.

Goals and objectives

The prime objective of ISRO is to develop space technology and its application to various national tasks.[2] The Indian space programme was driven by the vision of Dr Vikram Sarabhai, considered the father of Indian Space Programme.[7] As stated by him in 1969: Template:Cquote

As also pointed out by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam: Template:Cquote

India's economic progress has made its space programme more visible and active as the country aims for greater self-reliance in space technology.[8] Hennock etc. hold that India also connects space exploration to national prestige, further stating: "This year India has launched 11 satellites, including nine from other countries—and it became the first nation to launch 10 satellites on one rocket."[8] Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully put into operation two major satellite systems namely Indian National Satellites (INSAT) for communication services and Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites for management of natural resources; also, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for launching IRS type of satellites and Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) for launching INSAT type of satellites. On July 2012, former president, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam said that research by ISRO and DRDO is under way for developing cost reduction technologies for access to space.[9]

Launch vehicle fleet

Geopolitical and economic considerations during the 1960s and 1970s compelled India to initiate its own launch vehicle programme. During the first phase (1960s–1970s) the country successfully developed a sounding rockets programme, and by the 1980s, research had yielded the Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 and the more advanced Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), complete with operational supporting infrastructure.[10] ISRO further applied its energies to the advancement of launch vehicle technology resulting in the creation of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) technologies.

Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV)

Status: Decommissioned

The Satellite Launch Vehicle, usually known by its abbreviation SLV or SLV-3 was a 4-stage solid-fuel light launcher. It was intended to reach a height of 500 km and carry a payload of 40 kg.[11] Its first launch took place in 1979 with 2 more in each subsequent year, and the final launch in 1983. Only two of its four test flights were successful.[12]

Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV)

Main article: ASLV
Status: Decommissioned

The Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle, usually known by its abbreviation ASLV was a 5-stage solid propellant rocket with the capability of placing a 150 kg satellite into LEO. This project was started by the ISRO during the early 1980s to develop technologies needed for a payload to be placed into a geostationary orbit. Its design was based on Satellite Launch Vehicle.[13] The first launch test was held in 1987, and after that 3 others followed in 1988, 1992 and 1994, out of which only 2 were successful, before it was decommissioned.[12]

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)

Main article: PSLV
Status: Active

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, usually known by its abbreviation PSLV, is an expendable launch system developed to allow India to launch its Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites into sun synchronous orbits, a service that was, until the advent of the PSLV, commercially viable only from Russia. PSLV can also launch small satellites into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The reliability and versatility of the PSLV is proven by the fact that it has launched 55 satellites / spacecraft ( 26 Indian and 29 Foreign Satellites) into a variety of orbits so far.[14][15] In April 2008, it successfully launched 10 satellites at once, breaking a world record held by Russia.[16]

On 25 February 2013 the PSLV flew its 22nd consecutive successful launch mission.[17] Its only failure in 22 flights was its maiden voyage in September 1993, providing the rocket with a 95 percent success rate.[18]

Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)

Main article: GSLV
Status: Active

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, usually known by its abbreviation GSLV, is an expendable launch system developed to enable India to launch its INSAT-type satellites into geostationary orbit and to make India less dependent on foreign rockets. At present, it is ISRO's heaviest satellite launch vehicle and is capable of putting a total payload of up to 5 tons to Low Earth Orbit. The vehicle is built by India with the cryogenic engine purchased from Russia while the ISRO develops its own engine programme.

In a setback for ISRO, the latest attempt to launch the GSLV, GSLV-F06 carrying GSAT-5P, failed on 25 December 2010. The initial evaluation implies that loss of control for the strap-on boosters caused the rocket to veer from its intended flight path, forcing a programmed detonation. Sixty-four seconds into the first stage of flight, the rocket began to break up due to the acute angle of attack. The body housing the 3rd stage, the cryogenic stage, incurred structural damage, forcing the range safety team to initiate a programmed detonation of the rocket.[19]

Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III (GSLV III)

Main article: GSLV III
Status: In Development

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III is a launch vehicle currently under development by the Indian Space Research Organisation. It is intended to launch heavy satellites into geostationary orbit, and will allow India to become less dependent on foreign rockets for heavy lifting. The rocket, though the technological successor to the GSLV, however is not derived from its predecessor.[20] According to latest information available maiden flight is scheduled to take place in Feb 2014.

Earth observation and communication satellites

India's first satellite, the Aryabhata, was launched by the Soviet Union on 19 April 1975 from Kapustin Yar using a Cosmos-3M launch vehicle. This was followed by the Rohini series of experimental satellites which were built and launched indigenously. At present, ISRO operates a large number of earth observation satellites.

The INSAT series

INSAT (Indian National Satellite System) is a series of multipurpose geostationary satellites launched by ISRO to satisfy the telecommunications, broadcasting, meteorology and search-and-rescue needs of India. Commissioned in 1983, INSAT is the largest domestic communication system in the Asia-Pacific Region. It is a joint venture of the Department of Space, Department of Telecommunications, India Meteorological Department, All India Radio and Doordarshan. The overall coordination and management of INSAT system rests with the Secretary-level INSAT Coordination Committee.

The IRS series

Main article: Indian Remote Sensing satellite

Indian Remote Sensing satellites (IRS) are a series of earth observation satellites, built, launched and maintained by ISRO. The IRS series provides remote sensing services to the country. The Indian Remote Sensing Satellite system is the largest constellation of remote sensing satellites for civilian use in operation today in the world. All the satellites are placed in polar sun-synchronous orbit and provide data in a variety of spatial, spectral and temporal resolutions to enable several programmes to be undertaken relevant to national development. The initial versions are composed of the 1 (A,B, C, D) nomenclature. The later versions are named based on their area of application including OceanSat, CartoSat, Resource Sat.

Radar Imaging Satellites

ISRO currently operates two Radar Imaging Satellites.RISAT-1 was launched from Sriharikota Spaceport on 26 April 2012 on board a PSLV.RISAT-1 carries a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload, operating in a multi-polarisation and multi-resolution mode and can provide images with coarse, fine and high spatial resolutions.[21] India also operates RISAT-2 which was launched in 2009 and acquired from Israel at a cost $110 million.[21]

The IRNSS series

ISRO on 1 July 2013, at 23:41Hrs IST launched from Sriharikota the First Indian Navigation Satellite the IRNSS-1A. The IRNSS-1A was launched aboard PSLV-C22. The constellation would be comprising 7 satellites of I-1K bus each weighing around 1450 Kilograms, with three satellites in the Geostationary Earth Orbit(GEO) and 4 in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit(GSO). The constellation would be completed around 2015.[22]

Other satellites

ISRO has also launched a set of experimental geostationary satellites known as the GSAT series. Kalpana-1, ISRO's first dedicated meteorological satellite,[23] was launched by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on 12 September 2002.[24] The satellite was originally known as MetSat-1.[25] In February 2003 it was renamed to Kalpana-1 by the Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in memory of Kalpana Chawla – a NASA astronaut of Indian origin who perished in Space Shuttle Columbia.

ISRO has also successfully launched the Indo-French satellite SARAL on 25 February 2013, 12:31 UTC.SARAL or Satellite with ARgos and ALtiKa is a cooperative altimetry technology mission. It is being used for monitoring the oceans surface and sea-levels.AltiKa will measure ocean surface topography with an accuracy of 8 mm, against 2.5 cm on average using current-generation altimeters, and with a spatial resolution of 2 km.[26][27]

Human spaceflight programme

The Indian Space Research Organisation has proposed a budget of INR124 billion (Template:INRConvert/USD) for its human spaceflight programme.[28] According to the Space Commission which recommended the budget, an unmanned flight will be launched after 7 years of final approval.[29] and a manned mission will be launch after 7 years of funding.[30][31] If realised in the stated time-frame, India will become the fourth nation, after the USSR, USA and China, to successfully carry out manned missions indigenously.

Technology demonstration

The Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SCRE or more commonly SRE or SRE-1)[32] is an experimental Indian spacecraft which was launched using the PSLV C7 rocket, along with three other satellites. It remained in orbit for 12 days before re-entering the Earth's atmosphere and splashing down into the Bay of Bengal.[33] The SRE-1 was designed to demonstrate the capability to recover an orbiting space capsule, and the technology for performing experiments in the microgravity conditions of an orbiting platform. It was also intended to test thermal protection, navigation, guidance, control, deceleration and flotation systems, as well as study hypersonic aero-thermodynamics, management of communication blackouts, and recovery operations. ISRO also plans to launch SRE-2 and SRE-3 in the near future to test advanced re-entry technology for future manned missions.[34]

Astronaut training and other facilities

ISRO will set up an astronaut training centre in Bangalore to prepare personnel for flights on board the crewed vehicle. The centre will use simulation facilities to train the selected astronauts in rescue and recovery operations and survival in zero gravity, and will undertake studies of the radiation environment of space. ISRO will build centrifuges to prepare astronauts for the acceleration phase of the mission. It also plans to build a new Launch pad to meet the target of launching a manned space mission in 7 years of funding clearance. This would be the third launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.

Development of crew vehicle

Main article: ISRO Orbital Vehicle

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is working towards a maiden manned Indian space mission vehicle that can carry three astronauts for seven days in a near earth orbit. The Indian manned spacecraft temporarily named as Orbital Vehicle intends to be the basis of indigenous Indian human spaceflight programme. The capsule will be designed to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be equipped with a rendezvous and docking capability. In its maiden manned mission, ISRO's largely autonomous 3-ton capsule will orbit the Earth at 248 miles (400 km) in altitude for up to seven days with a two-person crew on board. The crew vehicle would launch atop of ISRO's GSLV Mk II, currently under development. The GSLV Mk II features an indigenously developed cryogenic upper-stage engine.[35] The first test of the cryogenic engine, held on 15 April 2010, failed as the cryogenic phase did not perform as expected and rocket deviated from the planned trajectory.[36]

Planetary sciences and astronomy

India's space era dawned when the first two-stage sounding rocket was launched from Thumba in 1963. Even before this, noteworthy contributions were made by the Indian scientists in the following areas of space science research:

  • Cosmic rays and high energy astronomy using both ground based as well as balloon borne experiments/studies such as neutron/meson monitors, Geiger Muller particle detectors/counters etc.
  • Ionospheric research using ground based radio propagation techniques such as ionosonde, VLF/HF/VHF radio probing, a chain of magnetometer stations etc.
  • Upper atmospheric research using ground based optical techniques such as Dobson spectrometers for measurement of total ozone content, air glow photometers etc.
  • Indian astronomers have been carrying out major investigations using a number of ground based optical and radio telescopes with varying sophistication.

With the advent of the Indian space programme, emphasis was laid on indigenous, self-reliant and state-of-the-art development of technology for immediate practical applications in the fields of space science research activities in the country.

There is a national balloon launching facility at Hyderabad jointly supported by TIFR and ISRO. This facility has been extensively used for carrying out research in high energy (i.e., X- and gamma ray) astronomy, IR astronomy, middle atmospheric trace constituents including CFCs & aerosols, ionisation, electric conductivity and electric fields.

The flux of secondary particles and X-ray and gamma-rays of atmospheric origin produced by the interaction of the cosmic rays is very low. This low background, in the presence of which one has to detect the feeble signal from cosmic sources is a major advantage in conducting hard X-ray observations from India. The second advantage is that many bright sources like Cyg X-1, Crab Nebula, Scorpius X-1 and Galactic Centre sources are observable from Hyderabad due to their favourable declination. With these considerations, an X-ray astronomy group was formed at TIFR in 1967 and development of an instrument with an orientable X-ray telescope for hard X-ray observations was undertaken. The first balloon flight with the new instrument was made on 28 April 1968 in which observations of Scorpius X-1 were successfully carried out. In a succession of balloon flights made with this instrument between 1968 and 1974 a number of binary X-ray sources including Scorpius X-1, Cyg X-1, Her X-1 etc. and the diffuse cosmic X-ray background were studied. Many new and astrophysically important results were obtained from these observations.[37]

One of most important achievements of ISRO in this field was the discovery of three species of bacteria in the upper stratosphere at an altitude of between 20–40 km. The bacteria, highly resistant to ultra-violet radiation, are not found elsewhere on Earth, leading to speculation on whether they are extraterrestrial in origin. These three bacteria can be considered to be extremophiles. Until then, the upper stratosphere was believed to be inhospitable because of the high doses of ultra-violet radiation. The bacteria were named as Bacillus isronensis in recognition of ISRO's contribution in the balloon experiments, which led to its discovery, Bacillus aryabhata after India's celebrated ancient astronomer Aryabhata and Janibacter Hoylei after the distinguished astrophysicist Fred Hoyle.[38]


ISRO's headquarters is located at Antariksh Bhavan in Bangalore.

Research facilities

Facility Location Description
Physical Research Laboratory Ahmedabad Solar planetary physics, infrared astronomy, geo-cosmo physics, plasma physics, astrophysics, archaeology, and hydrology are some of the branches of study at this institute.[39] An observatory at Udaipur also falls under the control of this institution.[39]
Semi-Conductor Laboratory Chandigarh Research & Development in the field of semiconductor technology, micro-electromechanical systems and process technologies relating to semiconductor processing.
National Atmospheric Research Laboratory Chittoor The NARL carries out fundamental and applied research in Atmospheric and Space Sciences.
Space Applications Centre Ahmedabad The SAC deals with the various aspects of practical use of space technology.[39] Among the fields of research at the SAC are geodesy, satellite based telecommunications, surveying, remote sensing, meteorology, environment monitoring etc.[39] The SEC additionally operates the Delhi Earth Station.[40]
North-Eastern Space Applications Centre Shillong Providing developmental support to North East by undertaking specific application projects using remote sensing, GIS, satellite communication and conducting space science research.

Test facilities

Facility Location Description
Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, and Mahendragiri (near Nagercoil) The LPSC handles testing and implementation of liquid propulsion control packages and helps develop engines for launch vehicles and satellites.[39] The testing is largely conducted at Mahendragiri.[39] The LPSC also constructs precision transducers.[41]

Construction and launch facilities

Facility Location Description
ISRO Satellite Centre Bangalore The venue of eight successful spacecraft projects is also one of the main satellite technology bases of ISRO. The facility serves as a venue for implementing indigenous spacecraft in India.[39] The satellites Ayrabhata, Bhaskara, APPLE, and IRS-1A were constructed at this site, and the IRS and INSAT satellite series are presently under development here.[41]
Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems Bangalore The Unit of ISRO responsible for the development of attitude sensors for all satellites. The high precision optics for all cameras and payloads in all ISRO satellites including Chandrayaan-1 are developed at this laboratory. Located at Peenya Industrial Estate, Bangalore.
Satish Dhawan Space Centre Sriharikota With multiple sub-sites the Sriharikota island facility acts as a launching site for India's satellites.[39] The Sriharikota facility is also the main launch base for India's sounding rockets.[41] The centre is also home to India's largest Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant (SPROB) and houses the Static Test and Evaluation Complex (STEX).[41]
Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Thiruvananthapuram The largest ISRO base is also the main technical centre and the venue of development of the SLV-3, ASLV, and PSLV series.[39] The base supports India's Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station and the Rohini Sounding Rocket programme.[39] This facility is also developing the GSLV series.[39]
Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station Thiruvananthapuram TERLS is used to launch sounding rockets.

Tracking and control facilities

Facility Location Description
Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) Bangalore This network receives, processes, archives and distributes the spacecraft health data and payload data in real time. It can track and monitor satellites up to very large distances, even beyond the Moon.
National Remote Sensing Centre Hyderabad The NRSC applies remote sensing to manage natural resources and study aerial surveying.[39] With centres at Balanagar and Shadnagar it also has training facilities at Dehradun in form of the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing.[39]
Indian Space Research Organisation Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network Bangalore (headquarters) and a number of ground stations throughout India and World.[40] Software development, ground operations, Tracking Telemetry and Command (TTC), and support is provided by this institution.[39] ISTRAC has Tracking stations throughout the country and all over the world in Port Louis (Mauritius), Bearslake (Russia), Biak (Indonesia) and Brunei.
Master Control Facility Bhopal; Hassan Geostationary satellite orbit raising, payload testing, and in-orbit operations are performed at this facility.[42] The MCF has earth stations and Satellite Control Centre (SCC) for controlling satellites.[42] A second MCF-like facility named 'MCF-B' is being constructed at Bhopal.[42]

Human resource development

Facility Location Description
Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) Dehradun Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS), an independent unit of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Department of Space, Govt. of India is a premier training and educational institute set up for developing trained professionals (P.G and PhD level) in the field of Remote Sensing, Geoinformatics and GPS Technology for Natural Resources, Environmental and Disaster Management. IIRS is also executing many R&D projects on Remote Sensing and GIS for societal applications.
Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) Thiruvananthapuram The institute offers undergraduate and graduate courses in Aerospace engineering, Avionics and Physical Sciences. The students of the first two batches of IIST have been inducted into different ISRO centres as of September 2012.
Development and Educational Communication Unit Ahmedabad The centre works for education, research, and training, mainly in conjunction with the INSAT programme.[39] The main activities carried out at DECU include GRAMSAT and EDUSAT projects.[41] The Training and Development Communication Channel (TDCC) also falls under the operational control of the DECU.[40]

Commercial wing

Facility Location Description
Antrix Corporation Bangalore The marketing agency under government control markets ISRO's hardware, manpower, and software.[42]

Other facilities include:

Future projects

ISRO plans to launch a number of new-generation Earth Observation Satellites in the near future. It will also undertake the development of new launch vehicles and spacecraft. ISRO has stated that it will send unmanned missions to Mars and Near-Earth Objects. ISRO has planned 58 missions during 2012–17; 33 satellites missions in next two years and 25 launch vehicles missions thereafter, costing INR200 billion (Template:INRConvert/USD).[43]

Forthcoming Satellites

Satellite Name Details
ASTROSAT ASTROSAT is a first dedicated Indian Astronomy satellite mission, which will enable multi-wavelength observations of the celestial bodies and cosmic sources in X-ray and UV spectral bands simultaneously. The scientific payloads cover the Visible (3500–6000 Ņ), UV (1300–3000 Ņ), soft and hard X-ray regimes (0.5–8 keV; 3–80 keV). The uniqueness of ASTROSAT lies in its wide spectral coverage extending over visible, UV, soft and hard X-ray regions.
GSAT-6 / INSAT-4E The primary goal of GSAT-6/INSAT-4E, which is a Multimedia broadcast satellite, is to cater to the consumer requirements of providing entertainment and information services to vehicles through Digital Multimedia consoles and to the Multimedia mobile Phones. The satellite carries a 5 spot beam BSS and 5 spot beam MSS. It will be positioned at 83° East longitude with a mission life of 12 years.
GSAT-7/INSAT-4F It is a multi-band satellite carrying payloads in UHF, S-band, C-band and Ku band. The satellite weighs 2330 kg with a payload power of 2000W and mission life of 9 years.
GSAT-9 GSAT-9 will carry 6 C band and 24 Ku band transponders with India coverage beam. The satellite is planned to be launched during 2011–12 with a mission life of 12 years and positioned at 48° East longitude. This I-2K satellite has a liftoff mass of 2330 kg and payload power of 2300 W.
GSAT-11 GSAT-11 is based on I-4K bus which is under advanced stage of development. The spacecraft can generate 10–12 KW of power and can support payload power of 8KW. The payload configuration is on-going. It consists of 16 spot beams covering entire country including Andaman & Nicobar islands. The communication link to the user-end terminals operate in Ku-band while the communication link to the hubs operate in Ka-band. The payload is configured to be operated as a high data throughput satellite, to be realised in orbit in 2013 time frame.
GSAT-14 GSAT-14 is intended to serve as a replacement for EDUSAT as the spacecraft is configured with 6 Ku and 6 Ext C band transponders providing India coverage beams. In addition, the spacecraft also carries Ka band beacons, which are planned to be used to carry out studies related to rain and atmospheric effects on Ka band satellite communication links in Indian region. The spacecraft weighs around 2050 kg and is planned to be launched by GSLV with indigenous cryogenic upper stage.

Future launch vehicles


GSLV-Mk III is envisaged to launch four tonne satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit. GSLV-Mk III is a three-stage vehicle with a 110 tonne core liquid propellant stage (L-110) and a strap-on stage with two solid propellant motors, each with 200 tonne propellant (S-200). The upper stage will be cryogenic with a propellant loading of 25 tonne (C-25). GSLV Mk-III will have a lift-off weight of about 626 tonne and will be 43.43 m tall. The payload fairing will have a diameter of 5-metre and a payload volume of 100 cubic metre. GSLV Mk III is planned to be launched in April, 2014. It will weigh 640 tonnes at the time of lift-off, which will make it the heaviest rocket ever to be built in India.[44]

Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD)

As a first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable launch vehicle, a series of technology demonstration missions have been conceived. For this purpose a Winged Reusable Launch Vehicle technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) has been configured. The RLV-TD will act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies viz., hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion. First in the series of demonstration trials is the hypersonic flight experiment (HEX).

Extraterrestrial Exploration

India's first mission beyond Earth's orbit was Chandrayaan-1. ISRO plans to follow up Chandrayaan-2 with unmanned missions to Mars, Venus and Near-Earth objects such as asteroids and comets.

Lunar exploration

Main article: Chandrayaan-1

Chandrayaan-1 is India's first mission to the moon. The unmanned lunar exploration mission includes a lunar orbiter and an impactor called the Moon Impact Probe. India launched the spacecraft using a modified version of the PSLV is C11 on 22 October 2008 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. The vehicle was successfully inserted into lunar orbit on 8 November 2008. It carries high-resolution remote sensing equipment for visible, near infrared, and soft and hard X-ray frequencies. Over its two-year operational period, it is intended to survey the lunar surface to produce a complete map of its chemical characteristics and 3-dimensional topography. The polar regions are of special interest, as they might contain ice. The lunar mission carries five ISRO payloads and six payloads from other international space agencies including NASA, ESA, and the Bulgarian Aerospace Agency, which were carried free of cost. The Chandrayaan-1 became the first lunar mission to discover existence of water on the moon.[45]

  • Following the success of Chandrayaan-1, the country's first moon mission, ISRO is planning a series of further lunar missions in the next decade, including a manned mission which is stated to take place in 2020 – approximately the same time as the China National Space Administration (CNSA) manned lunar mission and NASA's Project Constellation plans to return to the moon with its Orion-Altair project.
  • Chandrayaan-2 (Sanskrit: चंद्रयान-२) India’s second unmanned mission to the Moon, will have an Orbiter and Lander-Rover module. ISRO will have the prime responsibility for the Orbiter and Rover; Roskosmos, Russia will be responsible for Lander. Chandrayaan-2 will be launched on India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-MkII) around 2012–13 timeframe. The science goals of the mission are to further improve the understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon using instruments onboard Orbiter and in-situ analysis of lunar samples using Lander and Rover.

Mars orbiter mission

Main article: Mangalyaan

The Indian Space Research Organisation is preparing for Mangalyaan, an orbiter mission to Mars to be launched in November 2013.[46][47]

Venus orbiter mission

ISRO is planning a mission to Venus by May 2015 to study its atmosphere. The probe will reach Venus by September 2015 and would carry at least five instruments.[48]

Solar exploration programme

Main article: Aditya (spacecraft)

ISRO plans to carry out a mission to the Sun by the year 2015-16. The probe is named as Aditya-1 and will weigh about 400 kg.[49]

Space science missions

Space Capsule Recovery Experiment II The main objective of SRE II is to realise a fully recoverable capsule and provide a platform to conduct microgravity experiments on Micro-biology, Agriculture, Powder Metallurgy, etc. SRE-2 is proposed to be launched on board PSLV.

Aditya (spacecraft) The First Indian space based Solar Coronagraph to study solar Corona in visible and near IR bands. Launch of the Aditya mission is planned during the next high solar activity period ~ 2012 but has been postponed to 2015–2016 due to the extensive work involved in the fabrication and other technical aspects . The main objectives is to study the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) and consequently the crucial physical parameters for space weather such as the coronal magnetic field structures, evolution of the coronal magnetic field etc. This will provide completely new information on the velocity fields and their variability in the inner corona having an important bearing on the unsolved problem of heating of the corona would be obtained.

Satellite navigation


The Ministry of Civil Aviation has decided to implement an indigenous Satellite-Based Regional GPS Augmentation System also known as Space-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) as part of the Satellite-Based Communications, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS)/Air Traffic Management (ATM) plan for civil aviation. The Indian SBAS system has been given an acronym GAGAN – GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation. A national plan for satellite navigation including implementation of Technology Demonstration System (TDS) over the Indian air space as a proof of concept has been prepared jointly by Airports Authority of India (AAI) and ISRO. TDS was successfully completed during 2007 by installing eight Indian Reference Stations (INRESs) at eight Indian airports and linked to the Master Control Centre (MCC) located near Bangalore.

The first GAGAN navigation payload has been fabricated and it was proposed to be flown on GSAT-4 during Apr 2010. However, GSAT-4 was not placed in orbit as GSLV-D3 could not complete the mission. Two more GAGAN payloads will be subsequently flown, one each on two geostationary satellites, GSAT-8 and GSAT-10. On 12 May 2012, ISRO announced the successful testing of its indigenous cryogenic engine for 200 seconds for its forthcoming GSLV-D5 flight.[50]


Main article: IRNSS

The Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) is an autonomous regional satellite navigation system being developed by Indian Space Research Organisation which would be under total control of Indian government. The requirement of such a navigation system is driven by the fact that access to Global Navigation Satellite Systems like GPS are not guaranteed in hostile situations. ISRO plans to launch the constellation of satellites between 2012 and 2014.


India uses its satellites communication network – one of the largest in the world – for applications such as land management, water resources management, natural disaster forecasting, radio networking, weather forecasting, meteorological imaging and computer communication.[51] Business, administrative services, and schemes such as the National Informatics Centre (NICNET) are direct beneficiaries of applied satellite technology.[52] Dinshaw Mistry—on the subject of practical applications of the Indian space programme—writes:

The INSAT-2 satellites also provide telephone links to remote areas; data transmission for organisations such as the National Stock Exchange; mobile satellite service communications for private operators, railways, and road transport; and broadcast satellite services, used by India's state-owned television agency as well as commercial television channels. India's EDUSAT (Educational Satellite), launched aboard the GSLV in 2004, was intended for adult literacy and distance learning applications in rural areas. It augmented and would eventually replace such capabilities already provided by INSAT-3B.

The IRS satellites have found applications with the Indian Natural Resource Management programme, with regional Remote Sensing Service Centres in five Indian cities, and with Remote Sensing Application Centres in twenty Indian states that use IRS images for economic development applications. These include environmental monitoring, analysing soil erosion and the impact of soil conservation measures, forestry management, determining land cover for wildlife sanctuaries, delineating groundwater potential zones, flood inundation mapping, drought monitoring, estimating crop acreage and deriving agricultural production estimates, fisheries monitoring, mining and geological applications such as surveying metal and mineral deposits, and urban planning.

India's satellites and satellite launch vehicles have had military spin-offs. While India's 93–124-mile (150–250 km) range Prithvi missile is not derived from the Indian space programme, the intermediate range Agni missile is drawn from the Indian space programme's SLV-3. In its early years, when headed by Vikram Sarabhai and Satish Dhawan, ISRO opposed military applications for its dual-use projects such as the SLV-3. Eventually, however, the Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO)–based missile programme borrowed human resources and technology from ISRO. Missile scientist A. P. J. Abdul Kalam (elected president of India in 2002), who had headed the SLV-3 project at ISRO, moved to DRDO to direct India's missile programme. About a dozen scientists accompanied Abdul Kalam from ISRO to DRDO, where Abdul Kalam designed the Agni missile using the SLV-3's solidfuel first stage and a liquid-fuel (Prithvi-missile-derived) second stage. The IRS and INSAT satellites were primarily intended and used for civilian-economic applications, but they also offered military spin-offs. In 1996 New Delhi's Ministry of Defence temporarily blocked the use of IRS-1C by India's environmental and agricultural ministries in order to monitor ballistic missiles near India's borders. In 1997 the Indian air force’s "Airpower Doctrine" aspired to use space assets for surveillance and battle management.[53]

Institutions like the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and the Indian Institute of Technology use satellites for scholarly applications.[54] Between 1975 and 1976, India conducted its largest sociological programme using space technology, reaching 2400 villages through video programming in local languages aimed at educational development via ATS-6 technology developed by NASA.[55] This experiment—named Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE)—conducted large scale video broadcasts resulting in significant improvement in rural education.[55]

ISRO has applied its technology to "telemedicine", directly connecting patients in rural areas to medical professionals in urban locations via satellites.[54] Since high-quality healthcare is not universally available in some of the remote areas of India, the patients in remote areas are diagnosed and analysed by doctors in urban centres in real time via video conferencing.[54] The patient is then advised medicine and treatment.[54] The patient is then treated by the staff at one of the 'super-specialty hospitals' under instructions from the doctor.[54] Mobile telemedicine vans are also deployed to visit locations in far-flung areas and provide diagnosis and support to patients.[54]

ISRO has also helped implement India's Biodiversity Information System, completed in October 2002.[56] Nirupa Sen details the programme: "Based on intensive field sampling and mapping using satellite remote sensing and geospatial modelling tools, maps have been made of vegetation cover on a 1 : 250,000 scale. This has been put together in a web-enabled database which links gene-level information of plant species with spatial information in a BIOSPEC database of the ecological hot spot regions, namely northeastern India, Western Ghats, Western Himalayas and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This has been made possible with collaboration between the Department of Biotechnology and ISRO."[56]

The Indian IRS-P5 (CARTOSAT-1) was equipped with high-resolution panchromatic equipment to enable it for cartographic purposes.[7] IRS-P5 (CARTOSAT-1) was followed by a more advanced model named IRS-P6 developed also for agricultural applications.[7] The CARTOSAT-2 project, equipped with single panchromatic camera which supported scene-specific on-spot images, succeed the CARTOSAT-1 project.[57]

Global cooperation

ISRO has had the benefit of International cooperation since inception.

  • Establishment of TERLS, conduct of SITE & STEP, launches of Aryabhata, Bhaskara, APPLE, IRS-IA and IRS-IB/ satellites, manned space mission, etc. involved international cooperation.
  • ISRO operates LUT/MCC under the international COSPAS/SARSAT Programme for Search and Rescue.
  • India has established a Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTE-AP) that is sponsored by the United Nations.
  • India hosted the Second UN-ESCAP Ministerial Conference on Space Applications for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific in November 1999.
  • India is a member of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, Cospas-Sarsat, International Astronautical Federation, Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), International Space University, and the Committee on Earth Observation Satellite (CEOS).[58]
  • Chandrayaan-1 carried scientific payloads from NASA, ESA and the Bulgarian Space Agency.
  • The Russian Space Agency is cooperating with India in developing the rover for Chandrayaan-2 and also in the Indian manned mission.
  • The United States on 24 January 2011, removed several Indian government defence-related companies, including ISRO, from the so-called Entity List, in an effort to drive hi-tech trade and forge closer strategic ties with India.[59]

ISRO and the Department of Space have signed formal Memorandum of Understanding agreements with a number of foreign political entities, including:-

India carries out joint operations with foreign space agencies, such as the Indo-French Megha-Tropiques Mission.[58] On 25 June 2002 India and the European Union agreed to bilateral cooperation in the field of science and technology.[60] A joint EU-India group of scholars was formed on 23 November 2001 to further promote joint research and development.[60] India holds observer status at CERN while a joint India-EU Software Education and Development Centre is due at Bangalore.[60] In the 39th Scientific Assembly of Committee on Space Research held in Mysore, the Chairman of ISRO called upon international synergy in space missions in view of their prohibitive cost. He also disclosed that his organisation is grearing up to meet the growing demand of service providers, security agencies, etc. in a cost effective manner.[61]

See also

Government of India portal
Spaceflight portal



  • Bhaskaranarayana etc. (2007), "Applications of space communication", Current Science, 93 (12): 1737–1746, Bangalore: Indian Academy of Sciences.
  • Burleson, D. (2005), "India", Space Programmes Outside the United States: All Exploration and Research Efforts, Country by Country, pp. 136–146, United States of America: McFarland & Company, ISBN 0-7864-1852-4.
  • Daniel, R.R. (1992), "Space Science in India", Indian Journal of History of Science, 27 (4): 485–499, New Delhi: Indian National Science Academy.
  • Gupta, S.C. etc. (2007), "Evolution of Indian launch vehicle technologies", Current Science, 93 (12): 1697–1714, Bangalore: Indian Academy of Sciences.
  • "India in Space", Science & Technology edited by N.N. Ojha, pp. 110–143, New Delhi: Chronicle Books.
  • Mistry, Dinshaw (2006), "Space Programme", Encyclopedia of India (vol. 4) edited by Stanley Wolpert, pp. 93–95, Thomson Gale, ISBN 0-684-31353-7.
  • Narasimha, R. (2002), "Satish Dhawan", Current Science, 82 (2): 222–225, Bangalore: Indian Academy of Sciences.
  • Sen, Nirupa (2003), "Indian success stories in use of Space tools for social development", Current Science, 84 (4): 489–490, Bangalore: Indian Academy of Sciences.
  • "Space Research", Science and Technology in India edited by R.K. Suri and Kalapana Rajaram, pp. 411–448, New Delhi: Spectrum, ISBN 81-7930-294-6.

Further reading

  • [ISRO plans human colony on moon]; by Bibhu Ranjan Mishra in Bangalore; 18 December 2007; Rediff India Abroad (
  • The Economics of India's Space Programme, by U.Sankar, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2007, ISBN.13:978-0-19-568345-5

External links

  • ISRO Home Page
  • NARL Home Page
  • FAS article on ISRO.
  • Article on India's space programme.
  • About India's space programme, launch Vehicles,Chandrayaan.
  • [2]
  • India, US to collaborate on Mars, Moon missions.
  • India, US to collaborate on Mars, Moon missions.

Template:Public sector space agencies

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