ISRO and Indian Space Program

ISRO and Indian Space Program

This article deals with ‘ISRO and Indian Space Program.’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is important pillar of GS-3 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Space Program of India

  • Operated by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)
  • Chairman=Dr K Sivan (First Chairman of ISRO was Vikram Sarabhai.)
  • Head of ISRO also acts as Secretary of Department of Science


  • Primary body of Space Research under Department of Space
  • Headquartered in Bangalore
1961 Space Research started under Department of Atomic  Energy under Homi Bhaba
1962 Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCSR) established & work to establish TERLS (Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Centre) started  
1969 ISRO was formed  
1972 Department of Space (independent department)  formed => ISRO brought under Department of Space  
1975 Aryabhatta – First Satellite launched (with Soviet Launch Vehicle)  
1980 Rohini- first satellite launched by Indian LV(SLV3)

Objectives of Space Program

  • Using Space Technology for Socio-Economic benefit of the people
  • Make India self reliant in space technology

Department of Space (DoS)

  • ISRO is the primary R&D wing of DoS
  • Other Agencies of DoS
Physical Research Lab (PRL) Ahemdabad
Semi Conductor Lab Chandigarh
National Atmospheric Research Lab Chittor
North Eastern Space Applications Centre Shillong

Two (Three)  major satellite systems

ISRO and Indian Space Program
Major Satellite Systems of India
INSAT / GSAT Indian National Satellite For communication purposes Launched by GSLV (& foreign Space Agencies-Ariane of France)
IRS Indian Remote Sensing  Satellites For management of the natural resources Launched by PSLV
INS Indian Nano Satellites (New – First launched in Feb 2017) INS-1A & INS-1B  

Equivalent of ISRO of other nations

Russia RKA
China CNSA
Europe ESA
Japan JAXA

Private Space Agencies

Musk (Tesla) SpaceX
Jeff Bezos (Amazon) Blue Origin

Challenges to Indian Space Programme

  • Move from research and development  to a commercial level
  • Need to boost the frequency  of launches. This will  reduce the cost & make them cost competitive
  • Need to develop capabilities to build much larger number of the satellites than current 3-4 per year
  • Most of the space launches are for socio-economic development of country. ISRO need to move ahead and work for military and defence needs of country

Achievements of Indian Space Programme

  • Emerged as one of the 6 most important countries in field of space research
  • Self reliant in launching remote sensing and the communication platforms
  • With GSLV MK III , now is in elite club which can launch heavy Geo Stationary Communication Satellites 
  • 104 Satellites launched in single launch and created world record
  • Launch satellites for others too – Earn foreign exchange.
  • Contributes to national security in form of improving the surveillance capability
  • Helping India emerge as Technological power and Knowledge based economy

Side Topic :  Cases in news

Nambi Narayanan Case : In 1994, Nambi Narayanan who was working on Cryogenic Engine and was on verge of making it was arrested on charges of selling secrets. CBI later found that charges were false and he was discharged in 1996. Case was fabricated by IB Officials in connivance with CIA because US didn’t want India to develop Cryogenic Engine as it would have challenged  monopoly enjoyed by US, Russia and France

Glance at ISRO’s future missions (detail further in chapter)

  • Indian Regional  Navigation  Satellite  System  (IRNSS)  –  DONE
  • Reusable  Satellite  Launch Vehicle  – 
    • This  mission will reduce  the  cost of delivering satellites  into  orbit to 1/10th. 
  • Cryogenic  Engine  –  Done in June 2017
    • GSLV MK III with Cryogenic Stage developed successfully
    • This technology will help  India  launch payloads  of  upto  4  tonnes  into  the  geostationary  orbit. 
  • Chandrayaan 2  – 
    • After unprecedented  success  of  Chandrayaan 1, ISRO  is already  working on Chandryaan 2 which  will be  launched shortly.
    • It had Rover and Lander
    • Launched in July 2019 with partial success
  • SAARC  Satellite  –  Done in 2017
  • Aditya  Space  Satellite—
    • To   study  the  Corona  of   Sun
  • Venus  Exploration programme—
    • To   study  the  atmosphere  of Venus  ISRO 
    • By  2020
  • Gaganyaan
    • Manned mission
    • 3-ton ISRO   spaceship to  carry  a  2-member crew  to  the  Low Earth Orbit and  safe return  to  the  Earth after duration of few  orbits  to  two  days. 
    • Extendable  version of spaceship will allow  flights  upto  7 days &  docking  capability  with  space  stations 
  • Space Parks
    • 100-acre Space Park in Bangalore
    • private industry players would be allowed to set up facilities to make subsystems and components for satellites.

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