Know all you need to know about ISRO. You will get all the information about It’s history, purpose, its relevance and more …


In 1962, India’s 1st Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru founded the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) with his trusted protégée Dr. Vikram Sarabhai as its chairman. This INCOSPAR later grew and became ISRO in 1969. Dr.Vikram Sarabhai had to do a lot of convincing regarding the importance of a space program before the government finally gave their consent to it.

Dr. Homi J Bhabha supported Dr. Sarabhai immensely in setting up the first rocket launching station of India. This center was established at Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram on the coast of the Arabian Sea in kerala, primarily because of its proximity to the equator. From here the inaugural flight was launched on November 21, 1963.


The epoch of ISRO (Indian space research organization) began in 1969 under the chairman ship of honorable Dr.K.Radhakrishnan with the motto “space technology in the service of mankind”. Currently ISRO is among the 6 world’s largest government space agencies. Indian space research organization in Bangalore developed its first satellite “Aryabhatta” who was a great mathematician and an astronomer, and was launched in 1975 with the help from Soviet Union launch vehicle.

However, during the initial stages of the formation of ISRO, the socio-political conditions from hostile neighbors and the prevailing economic conditions during 1960-1970, forced India to initiate its own launch vehicle programs. It successfully developed rocket programs and by 1979, the first Satelite Launch Vehicle SLV was created.

The newly built SLV was ready to be launched from a newly established second launch site, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC). The first launch in 1979 was a failure, attributed to a control failure in the second stage. By 1980 this problem had been worked out. The first indigenous satellite launched by India was called Rohini-1.


Following the success of the SLV, ISRO was keen to start construction of a satellite launch vehicle that would be able to put useful satellites into the polar orbits. Design of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) was soon underway with clearance from the government. This vehicle would be designed as India’s 1st workhorse launch system, taking advantage of both old technology with large reliable solid-stages, and new liquid engines. At the same time, it was decided by the ISRO management that it would be prudent to develop a smaller rocket, based on the SLV that would serve as a test bed for various other new technologies that would be used on the PSLV. The Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV) would test newer technologies like strap-on boosters and new guidance systems, so that new experience could be gained before the PSLV formally went into full production.

Eventually, the ASLV was tested for flight in 1987, but this launch was a failure. After few corrections, another launch was attempted in 1988, this launch also failed, and this time a full investigation was launched into the cause, providing valuable experience, because the ASLV’s failure had been one of control – the vehicle could not be sufficiently controlled on removal of the stabilizing fins that were present on the SLV, so extra measures like improved maneuvering thrusters along with flight control system upgrades were added. The ASLV development also proved to be very useful in the development of strap-on motor technology.


But it was not until 1992 that the first successful launch of the ASLV took place. At this point this launch vehicle, which could only put very small payloads into orbit, had achieved its objective. It was in 1993 that the maiden flight of the PSLV was to take place. This launch was a failure. However the first successful launch happened in 1994, and since then, the PSLV has become the workhorse launch vehicle – placing both remote sensing and communications satellites into orbit, thus creating the largest cluster in the world, and providing unique data to Indian industry, agriculture etc. Continual performance upgrades have increased the payload capacity of the rocket significantly since then.

Under immense pressure, Glavkosmos halted the supply of the associated manufacturing and design technology to India. Until then, ISRO had not been affected by technology transfer restrictions thanks to the political foresight of Sir Vikram Sarabhai in indigenizing technology. However, certain other elements of the ISRO management cancelled indigenous cryogenic projects in anticipation of the impeding Russian deal. Instead of canceling the deal, Russia agreed to provide fully built engines. And so India began developing an indigenous cryogenic engine to replace them, in the GSLV-II. There is still a fair amount of controversy over the issue of the cryogenic engine acquisition, with many pointing to the decision to cancel indigenous projects as being a grave mistake. India would have likely had a fully indigenous engine operating by the time the GSLV launched had the indigenous development started from day one. Despite this one uncharacteristic slip in an otherwise extremely successful program, and the loss of potential payload capacity over the decade that occurred, ISRO pressed on.

India’s Mars Mission – Mangalyaan:

ISRO’s Mangalyaan or Mars mission was an ambitious project that had been completely sidelined by the world media calling it an unnecessary scientific experiment by a country that houses almost a third of the world’s malnourished people.

However, India’s maiden Mars mission was a big scientific achievement that placed India amongst the exclusive elite countries in the space technology.

India is the sixth nation in the world to launch a mission to the red planet. This was done at very low cost. ISRO’s reputation for austerity is aptly exemplified by the fact that Mangalyaan was developed recycling an existing spacecraft body design.

Also, it is a commendable feat of ISRO that it has achieved a successful first flight launch mission to the Mars, at a price that would put other international and national space agencies to shame.

ISRO, which has indigenously developed technologies to launch spacecraft in the past, is fast becoming a space hub in the country and is likely to generate thousands of jobs for our engineers.

The Mars mission comes as a welcome relief to the country facing the problems of economic slowdown. It raises their moral and the common man feels proud at t our scientific achievement. This ambitious mission has strengthened India’s foothold in community of scientific nations

More enticing fact about this project is that the kids and teenagers are getting lured to pursuing rocket science in their higher studies. This is a healthy sign for the development of scientific temper in the country.

The Mars mission aims to achieve utilitarian goals by digging deeper into the secrets of the red planet. The orbiter while making an effort towards sniffing traces of methane, would also measure relative abundance of hydrogen in its upper atmosphere, to introspect the history of water in this planet. The mission promises to generate useful engineering and scientific data that could be useful for further research.


About 28 foreign satellites are expected to be launched in the next two years, with about 7 being launched by the end of 2016.

Presently, ISRO is preparing for the launch of the 2.1-tonne capacity GSLV-Mark-II (carrying a communication satellite), around August 27th. Meanwhile, ISRO has put to long-duration test its indigenously developed cryogenic engine for GSLV-Mark-III, which can carry satellites weighing up to four tonnes. This technology has the potential to make ISRO fully self reliant in launching heavier communication satellites.

Meanwhile, ISRO is also planning the demonstration of its first RLV technology; by the end of 2015. RLV-TD is a series of technology demonstration missions; considered as the first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle.

Few Facts about ISRO:

  • Water was discovered on moon by ISRO not NASA.
  • India’s space mission to mars was designed and implemented at a cost one third of the Hollywood movie about space exploration (Gravity).
  • India is now a regular medium for countries like Germany Korea Japan and France to launch and deploy their satellites into space. (Japanese and French last satellites were deployed by ISRO’s).
  • Recently ISRO helped US launch one of the heaviest payloads.
  • Coming down to some numbers, India’s mars mission cost about 69 million dollars and took about 18 months of preparation compared to 5 years and about 670 million dollars took by NASA for their mars mission.
  • On similar lines India’s mission to moon took about 59 million dollars, which is about 10% of NASA’s budget for its similar mission to moon.