India is making remarkable progress in the field of space research. It has made great achievements during recent times. At the time of independence, India was far behind the developed countries in terms of scientific and technological research and development, particularly in the field of space research.
We had neither infrastructure nor required skills and expertise. Naturally, India had to depend on other developed countries of the world. However, after independence, the country made great efforts to minimise its dependence on other countries and to become technologically independent.
Consequently, it developed an infrastructure and capability largely commensurating national needs. Now, India is proud to have a reservoir of expertise well acquainted with the most modern advances in basic and applied space research.
India has made great strides in the sphere of space and technology and has applied it successfully for its rapid development and for the development of society as well. In the early days of independence, the country had to depend on other countries for space research and transmission services.
The space research was mainly conducted with the help of sending rockets. In fact, space research in India gained momentum with the formation of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 1969. Space research activities were provided additional fillip with the setting up of the Space Commission and the Department of Space by the Government of India in 1972. The ISRO was brought under the Department of Space the same year.
The year 1970s marks the beginning of an era of experimentation in the history of Indian space programme. During this period, India carried on experimental satellite programmes, namely Aryabhata, Bhaskara, Rohini and Apple.
The success of those programmes led to the era of operationalisation in 1980s during which operational satellite programmes like INSAT and IRS came into being. Today, INS AT and IRS are the major programmes of ISRO.
India has, today, robust launch vehicle programme, with the help of which it can launch spacecraft indigenously. The programme is mature enough to offer launch services to the outside world. ANTRIX, the commercial arm of the space department, is concerned with India’s space services globally.
The company is also supplying various IRS specific hardware and software items. The company has successfully executed several export orders received from major spacecraft/satellite manufacturers for spacecrafts/satellite systems, assemblies and components.
The successful launch of GSLV-FOl during the year 2004-05, is the most significant milestone in the history of Indian Space Programme. The first operational flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully placed the 1950 kg EDLISAT into a predetermined Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit which is really a feather in India’s cap. Undoubtedly, this achievement unequivocally speaks of India’s mounting progress in the field of space research.
The INSAT (Indian National Satellite) system is one of the largest domestic communication satellite systems in the Asia- Pacific region. Initiated in the 1980s it revolutionized India’s communication sector. While the IRS is the world’s largest constellation of civilian remote sensing satellites providing imagery at the national and global level. At present, it consists of 6 satellites-IRS-IC, IRS-ID, OCEANSAT, TES and RESOURCES AT (RESOURCE-S). The INSAT system is a multipurpose satellite system offering services to telecommunications, television broadcasting, weather forecasting, disaster warning, and search and rescue fields.
The INSAT system occupies prominent place in space programme. It serves many important sectors of Indian economy. Its role is of paramount importance in the telecommunication sectors wherein INSAT is providing Mobile Satellite Services besides VSATs (Very Small Apertine Terminals) services. Today, more than 40,000 VSATs are in operation.
In addition, wide expansion of television network in the country is also attributed to the INSAT system. It is due to INSAT that more than 900 million people in India have accessibility to TV through about 1400 terrestrial broadcast transmitters. The INSAT is also serving society with the help of exclusive channels dedicated to training and developmental education.
A Telemedicine network, intended to provide super speciality medical services to the remote rural areas is a reality just because of the INSAT. In fact, the network provides medical services to a vast section of population covering rural and urban areas. EDUSAT, India’s first thematic satellite, exclusively dedicated to educational services, is one of the greatest services, rendered by the INSAT. The meteorological services offered by the INSAT immensely help in disaster management. About 350 receivers have been set up along the east and west coast of India which provide information regarding weather conditions.
The services of the IRS are equally important. The pictures of high resolution state of the art camera of the IRS are used in a variety of ways in planning and development of society. These images are used for ground and surface water harvesting, monitoring of reservoirs and irrigation command areas to optimise water use. Forest survey and management and wasteland identification and recovery are other allied uses of the space programme.
The imagery taken by the satellite is also used for finding mineral prospects and forecasting of potential fishing zones. Besides, the data provided by the IRS are used in urban planning, flood prone area identification and the consequent suggestions for mitigation measures.
India has a vibrant and well-planned space research programme covering astronomy, astrophysics, planetary and space science, earth science and theoretical physics for which an elaborate launch infrastructure has been developed with ground facilities, like astronomical observations, and other latest technologies.
India, marching ahead in the field of space research has approved Chandrayaan-I, India’s first scientific mission to the moon. The mission Chandrayaan-I envisages orbiting a spacecraft around the moon at a height of 100 km from the lunar surface for mineralogical and photo-geologic mapping of the moon.
ISRO has a leading role in the field of space research. It has an active programme to interact with academic and research institutions all over the country. Furthermore, it has international ties with numerous countries and space agencies. ISRO provides training in space applications to personnel of developing countries.
It has launched scientific payloads of other space agencies. It has cooperative agreement with NASA and other such agencies for the reception of meteorological data from INS AT spacecraft by those agencies.
ANTRIX, the commercial wing of the Space Development, is playing a major role in the worldwide availability of data through Space Imaging, USA. It also provides IRS data processing equipment. It also offers launch services with the help of PSLV. Through this, Telemetry, Tracking and Command support from the Indian ground stations are provided. Besides, transponders from INSAT system can be leased from various purposes. World’s leading spacecraft manufactures are its customers.
Thus, India has made tremendous strides in the field of space research. With the development of launch vehicle technology indigenously and other significant achievement, it is now a member of Space Club. It has been successful in the application of satellite technologies for the benefit of society. It is commercially exploiting its progress made in the field of space research.