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Encyclopedia > ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is India's national space agency. Headquartered at Bangalore, the ISRO employs approximately 17,000. Its mandate is to develop space technology and apply it to related national tasks.

The current Chairman of the ISRO is G. Madhavan Nair.



ISRO was founded in 1969 under India's Department of Atomic Energy. Its first satellite was launched in 1975 by a Soviet booster, and its first domestic launch was in 1980.

India created the Space Commission and Department of Space in June 1972. The ISRO now operates under their auspices.

Milestones in Indian Space Programme

  • 1962: Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR); formed by the Department of Atomic Energy, and work on establishing Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) near Trivandrum began.
  • 1963: First sounding rocket launched from TERLS (November 21, 1963).
  • 1965: Space Science & Technology Centre (SSTC) established in Thumba.
  • 1967: Satellite Telecommunication Earth Station set up at Ahmedabad.
  • 1972: Space Commission and Department of Space set up.
  • 1975: First Indian Satellite, Aryabhatta, launched (April 19, 1975).
  • 1976: Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) conducted.
  • 1979: Bhaskara-1, an experimental satellite launched. First Experimental launch of SLV-3 with Rohini satellite on board failed.
  • 1980: Second Experimental launch of SLV-3 Rohini satellite successfully placed in orbit.
  • 1981: APPLE, an experimental Geostationary communication satellite successfully launched. Bhaskara-II launched (November)
  • 1982: INSAT-1A launched (April); deactivated in September.
  • 1983: Second launch of SLV-3. RS-D2 placed in orbit. INSAT-1B launched.
  • 1984: Indo-Soviet manned space mission (April). Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian to reach space.
  • 1987: ASLV with SROSS-1 satellite on board launched.
  • 1988: First Indian Remote Sensing Satellite, IRS-1A launched. INSAT-1C launched (July). Abandoned in November.
  • 1990: INSAT-1D launched successfully.
  • 1991: Launch of second operational Remote Sensing satellite, IRS-1B (August).
  • 1992: Third developmental launch of ASLV with SROCC-C on board (May). Satellite placed in orbit. First indigenously built satellite INSAT-2A launched successfully.
  • 1993: INSAT-2B launched in July successfully. First developmental launch of PSLV with IRS-1E on board fails.
  • 1994: Fourth developmental launch of ASLV successful (May). Second developmental launch of PSLV with IRS-P2 successfully (October).
  • 1995: INSAT-2C launched in December. Third operational IRS launched.
  • 1996: Third developmental launch of PSLV with IRS-P3 successful (March).
  • 1997: INSAT-2D launched in June becomes inoperational in October. Arabsat1C, since renamed INSAT-2DT, acquired in November. First operational launch of PSLV with IRS-1D successful (September).
  • 1998: INSAT system capacity augmented with the readiness of INSAT-2DT acquired from Arabsat (January, 1998).
  • 1999: INSAT-2E the last satellite in the multi-purpose INSAT-2 series, launched by Ariane from Kourou French Guyana (April 3, 1999). Indian Remote Sensing Satellite, IRS-P4 (OCEANSAT), launched by Polar Satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-C2) along with Korean KITSAT-3 and German DCR-TUBSAT from Sriharikota (May 26, 1999).
  • 2000: INSAT-3B was launched on 22 March 2000.
  • 2001: GSLV-D1, the first developmental launch of GSLV with GSAT-1 onboard partially successful.
  • 2002: INSAT-3C launced successfully by Arianespace (January), PSLV-C4 launches KALPANA-1 (September).
  • 2003 : GSLV-D2, the second developmental launch of GSLV with GSAT-2 successful (May).
  • 2004: First operational flight of GSLV successfully launches EDUSAT.

US Sanctions

Early cooperation with the Russian Federation in booster development was fought by the US on non-proliferation grounds. Sanctions were threatened (in 1992) by the US on the ISRO and Russian space organization Glavkosmos to prevent rocket engine technology transfers. The Russians backed down and agreed to sell cryogenic liquid rocket engines, but not the associated manufacturing and design technology which India wanted to buy. The Russian Federation became members of the MTCR shortly thereafter.

This resulted in India developing its own robust technology and research capability. The ISRO still uses some Russian technology for cryogenic stages on the GSLV, but it is being replaced by its own designs.


Satellite arrays, composed of the IRS (Indian Remote Sensing) satellite series in LEO (Low Earth Orbit), INSAT (Indian National Satellite) series in GSO (Geo-Stationary) are launched, maintained by ISRO. Other than the INSAT, Geo-Stationary Satellites of the GSAT (including the recent EDUSAT) Series (launched using GSLV) METSAT (Kalpana I after Kalpana Chawla, launched by PSLV) are also built, launched maintained by ISRO.


The Insat series of satellites include the 1 (A,B,C,D), 2 (A,B,C,D/DT) and 3 (A,B,C,D,E) series. They provide Communication and Television relay services all over India. Most of these satellites were launched by USA or Arianespace for ISRO (India). Among the future series (4) of satellites the first few will be launched by Arianespace and the rest by ISRO.


The IRS series provide remote sensing services and are composed of the 1 (A,B,C,D). The future versions are named based on their area of application including OceanSat, CartoSat, ResourceSat. Some of the satellites have alternate designations based on the launch number and vehicle (P series for PSLV).

Launch Vehicles

  • Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) - An all solid four stage satellite launch vehicle built as a proof of launch capabilities. Its payloads mainly included the Rohini Satellites.
  • Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle(ASLV) - An all solid four stage satellite launch vehicle. Its payloads mainly included Streched Rohini Satellite Series (SROSS) satellites.

See also

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Fatal Blast at Rocket Plant Will Not Affect ISRO Programs (862 words)
ISRO chairman Gopalan Madhavan Nair, who supervised salvage operations at the plant, told Indian national television that the "sad event" was an accident and that no sabotage was suspected.
Some ISRO officials, who did not want to be named, said the committee’s task will be difficult because much of the physical evidence was damaged in the fire, which melted the crane used during the operation.
In its press release, ISRO said the nine-person crew in the building’s so-called cast-cure facility had "satisfactorily concluded the removal of the mandrel and was attending to the removal of the bottom plate of the casting assembly" when the motor segment, containing 14.5 metric tons of propellant, ignited.
Advanced GSLV version to be ready by '09: ISRO (318 words)
Presently, ISRO is launching the heavier communication satellites into space using the European Ariane Space launch vehicles from Kourou in French Guyana.
ISRO is developing a series of earth observation satellites, which include IRS-P6 (RESOURCESAT) planned for launch using the indigenous polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) later this year.
ISRO is planning to launch an all-weather and all day-night observation capability, radar imaging satellite (RISAT) during 2006, the report said.
  More results at FactBites »



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