With the recent Chandrayaan 2 mission, which achieved about 95 percent success rate, India’s premier space agency, ISRO, has gained attention from all over the world. Earlier, ISRO created history by sending Mars Orbiter Mission, becoming one of the few countries to achieve the feat. USA, European Union and the erstwhile Soviet Union have also successfully launched orbiter missions to Mars.
While space missions all over the world have witnessed an increase in the costs, ISRO successfully completed the missions in a fraction of the budget — setting an inspiring precedent worldwide by showing that it is possible to explore space with limited resources too. Currently, K.Sivan is the chairman of ISRO.
Also read: How to become a Scientist in ISRO?
A brief history of ISRO
ISRO, also known as the Indian Space Research Organisation (भारतीय अंतरिक्ष अनुसंधान संगठन), is the successor agency of the erstwhile Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR), which was founded in 1962. Dr Vikram Sarabhai headed the INCOSPOR, which then set up the Thumba Equatorial Launching Station (TERLS) for studying the upper atmosphere. ISRO was set up in 1969.
Six years after it was formed, ISRO launched its first satellite on April 19, 1975. This is also the year when it became a government organisation. Just two years later, ISRO launched Bhaskar-1 and on July 18, 1980, Rohini Satellite was successfully placed in the orbit. India became the sixth country in the world to place a satellite in Earth’s orbit.
In the 1980s, ISRO launched India’s first Remote Sensing Satellite, IRS-1A, on March 17, 1988. The second satellite of the IRS series, IRS-1B, was launched on August 29, 1991. The third satellite, IRS-1C, was launched on December 28, 1995.
The most important mission, however, was the Indo-Soviet manned mission that launched on April 2, 1984, and orbited the Earth for eight days, aboard which was India’s first and only astronaut, Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma, alongside Soviet cosmonauts Col Yuri Malyshev and Mr Gennady Strekalov.
In the 2000s, ISRO launched various satellites like EDUSAT, CARTOSAT, among others. On October 22, 2008, ISRO launched the Chandrayaan 1 mission, which turned out to major success — both for the ISRO as well as for all the space aficionados around the world — as water molecules were discovered on the moon.
On July 2013, ISRO launched the first of the seven satellites of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. With these missions, the already established credibility of ISRO was further deepened. Later ISRO launched Mars Orbiter Mission in 2013, and the Chandrayaan 2 mission on 22 July 2019. You can find more about important missions from this century here.
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ISRO’s satellite and space mission in numbers
- 105: Total Spacecraft missions including 3 Nano Satellites and 1 Micro Satellite.
- 75: Total launch missions including Scramjet-TD and RLV-TD
- 10: Student Satellites
- 2: Re-entry Missions
- 297: Total foreign satellites of 33 countries
ISRO’s headquarter is at Antriksh Bhawan in Bengaluru, alongwith the secretariat of the Department of Space. Apart from the main HQ, ISRO has centres all across India; Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota is the launch base. You can find out about the centres here. Antrix Corporation Limited is the commercial wing of ISRO and is housed in Antrix Complex, Bengaluru.