ISRO - Empowering India with space technology

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Following article on”ISRO” is part of our series on general awareness: 
ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) is an independent agency of Indian governmental headquartered in Bangalore. It was established for research and development of vehicles and activities for the purpose of exploration of space. Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, who is considered as the father of Indian space program had a vision that the space technology is a very powerful tool that could play a meaningful role in resolving common ma’s problem and in national development. Thus, ISRO has always concentrated on building & launching communication satellites to ease the common man’s life and thereby achieving self reliance.
Tracking the history of modern space research leads us to the activities of renowned scientists like S.K. Mitra, C.V. Raman and Meghanad Saha whose contribution to space science is unforgettable. They contributed by applying scientific principles in space sciences and thereby raising hope in the minds of Indians to do wonders in the field of space sciences. 
However, a great pace was noticed in the field of space sciences in the period after 1945. This period witnessed important developments being made in coordinated space research in India. The two spearheads of this organized space research were Vikram Sarabhai, who is considered as father of Indian space program and Homi Bhabha, who played an eminent role in the establishment of Tata Institute of fundamental Research in 1945.
Some of the experiences in the initial stage of space sciences were study of cosmic radiation, study of upper atmosphere, deep underground experimentation at one of the world’s deepest mining sites- Kolar mines and many more. All of these studies and experiments were carried out at various research laboratories, universities, and independent locations.
The field of space research gained government support by 1950 with the establishment of Department of Atomic energy with Homi Bhabha as secretary. This department started funding space research across the country. 
Later Uttar Pradesh state observatory was setup in 1954, at the foothills of the Himalayas. The Rangpur Observatory was also established at Osmania University, Hyderabad in the year 1957. Both the observatories gathered the technical support and scientific cooperation of the United States of America. Space research was further encouraged by then prime minister of India-Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who had an incline towards technological advancement.
A major milestone came in the field of space research in the year 1957 when Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik and raised hope for the rest of the world to conduct a space launch. Finally in the year 1962, The Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was established to formulate the Indian space program, with Dr. Vikram Sarabhai as its chairman. INCOSPAR took the decision to establish TERLS (Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station) at Thumba in Kerala state of India.
Indian space program faced a major blow due to the death of Homi Bhabha in an air crash on 24 January 1966. Later, Dr. Sarabhai was made in-charge of Bhabha’s responsibilities. He became the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy. 
In the 1960s the Space Science and Technology Centre (SSTC), Indian Satellite System Project (ISSP), the Sriharikota base and the Experimental Satellite Communication Earth Station (ESCES) were established. The Indian Space Research Organization in its modern form, as we know it today was created by Dr. Vikram Sarabhai in the year 1969 and he became the first chairman of ISRO. Since then ISRO have had 6 more chairman. Currently the chairman of ISRO is Dr. K. Radhakrishnan. 
The objective of ISRO is to develop space technology and its application to various national tasks. The best way to define objectives of ISRO is to quote Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, as he stated-
“There are some who question the relevance of space activities in a developing nation. To us, there is no ambiguity of purpose. We do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the exploration of the moon or the planets or manned space-flight. But we are convinced that if we are to play a meaningful role nationally, and in the community of nations, we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society.” 
Many doubted the establishment of ISRO at a time when it was difficult for the nation to feed its population but it was never established to show India’s might on world front, rather its prime motive has always been to serve its own people.
Over the years, ISRO has conducted a variety of operations, starting from Aryabhata- ISRO’s first satellite, which was launched by the Soviet Union in 1975. The first satellite placed in orbit by an Indian-made launch vehicle, namely Rohini was launched in 1980. Currently, ISRO operates a large number of earth observation satellites.
One of these satellites is INSAT(Indian National Satellite System), which is a series of multipurpose geostationary satellites launched to cater the broadcasting, telecommunications, meteorology and search-and-rescue needs of India. It is the largest domestic communication system in the Asia-Pacific Region. 
ISRO has launched many more satellites, namely the IRS series (Indian Remote Sensing satellites), GSAT series, Kalpana-1, RESOURCESAT-2, YOUTHSAT, STUDSAT, ANUSAT and many more.
India uses these satellites for a variety of purposes. For example-
INSAT-2 satellites provide telephone access in remote areas, data transmission services to organizations such as National Stock exchange, broadcast satellite service and mobile satellite service to private operators.
EDUSAT is intended for adult literacy and distance learning applications in rural India.
IRS satellites are used for environment monitoring, analyzing soil erosion, forestry management, drought monitoring, fisheries monitoring etc.
ISRO has applied its technology to telemedicine too.
Though India’s first satellite was launched by the Soviet Union, yet India always had an objective of achieving self-reliance. As a result the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV or SLV-3) was made by ISRO. It was a 4-stage solid-fuel light launcher intended to reach a height of 500 km and carry a payload of 40 kg. It launched Rohini in 1980 creating a page of history in the field of space technology by being first Indian-made satellite launch vehicle to successfully launch a satellite into its orbit. Since then 4 more satellite launch vehicles have been designed by ISRO, namely ASLV, PSLV, GSLV, and GSLV Mark-lll. These vehicles have launched several communications satellites, Earth-observation satellites, and, Chandrayaan-1, which is India’s first mission to the Moon. 
Indeed, ISRO has proved itself as an astonishing organization and has achieved recognition in few decades which many other countries could not. There are several other projects in the pipeline which will certainly empower India.   
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