With the vision of “harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research & planetary exploration” India’s ISRO has become one of the world’s top space organizations for research and human space exploration. It was founded 51 years ago on 15th of August in 1969 by Vikram Sarabhai. Before ISRO, Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) launched India’s first rocket in 1963. However, it was the current organization that is responsible for India’s current standing in the world. From transporting their first rocket on the back of a bicycle to being the first country to reach Mars in the 1st attempt, ISRO has come a long way. Here are 10 of the top achievements of ISRO that have put it on the world map.
1. SRE-1 in 2007
The first mission in this list of the top 10 achievements of ISRO is the Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE-1), which was launched on January 10, 2007 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre First Launch Pad in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The rocket used to launch SRE-1 was PSLV C7 along with 3 other satellites. The objective of this entire mission was to showcase the potential of an orbiting space capsule’s recovery. The capsule orbited in space for 12 days before re-entering earth. Other scientific objectives were guidance control, navigation, communication management and many others.
2. Launch of INSAT in 1983
This is one of the first few missions by ISRO that put them on the radar. INSAT stands for the Indian National Satellite System, which is one of the few largest domestic communication satellite systems in the Indo-Pacific Region or Asia-Pacific Region. It has 9 communication satellites that are placed in the Geo-stationary orbit. It was commissioned in 1983 to satisfy broadcasting, telecommunications, weather forecasting, search & rescue operations, disaster warning and meteorology. The launch of INSAT commenced a major revolution in the country’s communication sector.
3. Development of RLV
The next mission of ISRO that deserves a spot in this list is the development of a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV). Unlike NASA, ISRO does not have an unlimited budget and freedom, which is why they have to be cost effective as well as cost efficient. This is the reason why the development of RLV is major for ISRO. If this reusable unmanned space rocket is given the green light, it will give the organization a chance to go further in their mission of pursuing science research and space exploration. While the RLV is still a prototype, it took its first flight on 23 May 2016.
4. Launching the heaviest commercial mission in 2015
In 2015, ISRO created or broke a record of the heaviest commercial mission. Carrying 1440 kg, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C28 (PSLV-C28) was launched on July 10, 2015. The spacecraft carried 5 British satellites and was operated by ISRO as well as Antrix Corporation. The spacecraft travelled 647 km in 19 minutes 22 seconds from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
5. Launch of Aryabhata, India’s first satellite in 1975
If there is one thing we Indians like to brag about, it is Aryabhata, the famous astronomer who invented zero, discovered the approximate value of pi. He was also one of the few astronomers who suggested the heliocentric theory. This is why the first successful satellite launched by ISRO was named after Aryabhata. It was launched in a Russian rocket Kosmos-3M from Kapustin Yar, Astrakhan Oblast in 1975. The satellite was in space for 17 years before re-entering Earth’s atmosphere on 10th February 1992. However, ISRO lost all communication with the satellite in March 1981.
6. 2008’s Chandrayaan 1
The next ISRO mission that has changed the course of India’s space exploration is Chandrayaan 1. It was launched in October 2008 and was the first lunar probe under the Chandrayaan program. The mission had a lunar impactor and orbiter and was in operation until August 2009. It was launched to collect scientific information about the moon’s mineralogy, geology and topography. While the mission was concluded, some also consider it a failure as ISRO lost contact with the spacecraft before even completing a year in space.
7. GSLV MK3 in 2014
GSLV MK3 stands for Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III. It is a 3-stage medium lift launch space craft developed by ISRO to launch Chandrayaan 2. It is ISRO’s most powerful rocket that can carry up to 4000 kgs into the orbit. It can also carry 3 astronauts, which is a huge accomplishment for India as not many organizations have been able to do so.
8. Launched 104 satellites in 1 mission
After carrying out the heaviest commercial mission, ISRO created another world record of launching the greatest number of satellites in a single mission in 2017 using the Indian rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. Out of the 104 satellites lifted off, 101 were foreign satellites. Putting all the satellites in a single go into their right orbit was one of ISRO’s biggest achievement till date.
9. Launching IRNSS in 2016
Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is an independent navigational satellite system designed to give accurate information to users in India. Launching IRNSS made India the fifth country to have its very own navigation system. Seven satellites had to be launched to complete the satellite system, which ISRO was able to complete on 29 April 2016. It is a big leap for the future and is something every Indian is proud of!
10. 2014’s Mangalyaan or MOM
Undoubtedly, MOM or Mars Orbiter Mission is ISRO’s biggest achievement. Reaching Mars has not been easy for any country. To this date, India remains the only country to reach mars on its first attempt. Not only this, they accomplished the mission on a tight budget of INR 450 crore, which was the lowest till date. India is the 4th country to reach the red planet after the U.S., Russia and Europe.