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ISRO’s Remarkable Space Journey


The Chandrayaan-3 lander, named Vikram, has made a successful soft landing on the surface of the Moon, making India the first country to reach close to the lunar south pole. India has also become the fourth nation in history to land on the lunar surface.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. ISRO’s Satellite Programmes
  2. ISRO’s Launch Vehicle Programmes
  3. ISRO’s Planetary Explorations

ISRO’s Satellite Programmes:

Aryabhata Satellite:
  • Launched on April 19, 1975, Aryabhata marked India’s entry into space exploration.
  • Weighing 360 kg, it was designed by ISRO to conduct experiments in X-ray astronomy, solar physics, and aeronomics.
  • Aryabhata was India’s first satellite, and its launch was supported by the Soviet Union.
  • Despite its communication loss after five days, it was a significant milestone in India’s space journey.
Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) Satellite System:
  • Following Aryabhata, Bhaskar-1 and Bhaskar-2, experimental remote-sensing satellites were launched in 1979 and 1981.
  • These satellites laid the foundation for the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) Satellite system, a series of Earth Observation spacecraft.
  • IRS satellites play a crucial role in various applications, and India now operates a significant number of them.
Indian National Satellite System (INSAT):
  • In 1981, the experimental communication satellite APPLE was launched, leading to the development of the Indian National Satellite System (INSAT).
  • INSAT is a series of geostationary satellites catering to telecommunications, broadcasting, meteorology, and search and rescue needs.
  • While early INSATs were made by Ford Aerospace in the US, subsequent satellites were indigenously built.
Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) or NavIC:
  • A recent notable mission is the IRNSS, also known as NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation).
  • NavIC is a regional satellite navigation system designed to provide accurate positioning and timing information over India and the surrounding region.
  • This constellation enhances India’s navigation capabilities and has various applications in sectors like transportation, agriculture, disaster management, and more.

ISRO’s Launch Vehicle Programmes:

Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 (SLV-3):
  • Launched successfully in 1980, SLV-3 was India’s first experimental satellite launch vehicle.
  • It used an all-solid, four-stage configuration capable of placing 40 kg payloads in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
  • This marked India’s entry into satellite launch capabilities.
Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV):
  • ASLV’s developmental flight occurred in 1987.
  • It was a five-stage, all-solid propellant vehicle designed to orbit 150 kg class satellites in 400 km circular orbits.
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV):
  • PSLV’s first successful launch was in October 1994.
  • It introduced liquid stages to Indian launch vehicles.
  • It can carry payloads up to 1,750 kg to Sun-Synchronous Polar Orbits.
  • PSLV has launched numerous Indian and foreign satellites, including Chandrayaan-1 and Mars Orbiter.
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV):
  • GSLV, a fourth-generation launch vehicle, features three stages and four liquid strap-on boosters.
  • Designed for launching communication satellites, it made its debut in 2001 and has conducted 13 launches to date.
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MkIII (GSLV-MkIII):
  • GSLV MkIII, approved in 2002, is a three-stage vehicle with two solid strap-on motors, a liquid core stage, and a high-thrust cryogenic upper stage.
  • It aims to launch 4-ton class satellites into Geosynchronous orbit.
  • GSLV MkIII strengthens ISRO’s launch capabilities for heavier payloads and complex missions.

ISRO’s Planetary Explorations:

  • In 2008, ISRO embarked on planetary explorations with the Chandrayaan-1 mission.
  • The mission included an Orbiter and the Moon Impact Probe.
  • The Impact Probe crash-landed on the Moon, marking India’s presence on the lunar surface.
  • Chandrayaan-1’s Orbiter detected evidence of water on the Moon.
Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM):
  • In 2013, ISRO launched Mangalyaan, its first interplanetary mission, reaching Mars orbit in 2014.
  • ISRO became the fourth space agency globally to achieve this feat.
  • Launched in 2019, Chandrayaan-2 aimed for a soft landing on the Moon.
  • The lander, Vikram, lost contact and crashed during its landing attempt.
  • Despite the setback, the mission’s Orbiter continues to study the Moon.
  • Launched on July 14, 2023, Chandrayaan-3 achieved a successful soft landing near the lunar south pole.
  • This makes India the first country to accomplish such a feat.
  • Chandrayaan-3’s success signifies India’s continued progress in planetary exploration.

-Source: Indian Express

February 2024