2014: A golden year for ISRO


Above poster war happened when India launched a very cost-effective Mars Mission. It was argued that nation crippled with poverty and hunger should look inward before launching something into the sky. To this Indian media said, when a NASA rocket exploded, that these nations should look inward before questioning others’ technological endeavors. While its pleasing to see our media backing up ISRO, it is also important for us to understand what actually is ISRO doing in last few years. In this article,  we write about something very significant going on in ISRO for quite some time. We enlist some of the achievements of ISRO in last few years with their implication on India’s position in the World.

First is Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) which is a GPS like navigation system for India. The need for such a system is required especially because foreign satellite systems (GPS of USA) do not have reliability in hostile conditions in general as happened with Indian Army at the time of Kargil War. When Pakistani troops took positions in Kargil in 1999, one of the first things Indian military sought was GPS data for the region. The space-based navigation system maintained by the US government would have provided vital information, but the US denied it to India. A need for an indigenous satellite navigation system was felt earlier, but the Kargil experience made the nation realise its inevitability. IRNSS is a set of 7 satellites designed to provide two services, the Standard Positioning Service open for civilian use and the Restricted Service, encrypted one, for authorized users (military). The civilian use can be (will be) extended to neighboring countries and can be a very fruitful confidence building measure for the SAARC group of nations.

Second is GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launching Vehicle) Mark III which is a high payload bearing satellite launching vehicle. India sent an astronaut way back with the help of Russians and since then there is an ambition to send an Indian crew to walk the space on an Indian vehicle. The vehicle for such payload requirement for such a mission was not yet available with India and that mandated the requirement of GSLV Mark III. Apart from this, it can also carry heavier payload than presently available GSLV. It will reduce Indian dependency on foreign satellite launchers for heavier payloads (communication satellites, the INSAT series). With this capacity, India can be service provider to neighboring countries to launch their own communication satellites and challenge China in its similar pursuit. GSLV Mark III did a successful first experimental launch in December 2014.

Third is Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) which is a spacecraft orbiting Mars. It was launched on 5 November 2013 by ISRO. It is India’s first interplanetary mission and ISRO has become the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the Soviet space program, NASA, and the European Space Agency. It is also the first nation to reach Mars orbit on its first attempt, and the first Asian nation to do so. The highlight of the mission is it being a low-cost one. The mission is a “technology demonstrator” project to develop the technologies for design, planning, management, and operations of an interplanetary mission. It carries five instruments that will help advance knowledge about Mars to achieve its secondary (scientific) objective. Its success has paved the way for India to launch further missions to distant planets.

Fourth is Chandrayaan II which is a second installment of a lunar mission of India. According to ISRO, this mission will use and test various new technologies and conduct new experiments. The wheeled rover will move on the lunar surface and will pick up soil or rock samples for on-site chemical analysis. The data will be relayed to Earth through the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter.

Importance of ISRO as a spearhead in indigenous research cannot be overstated here. While India is still fighting with poverty and hunger, ISRO has shown that technological advancement can be made despite the current context of India. While foreign countries may condemn this advancement as being at the expense of human development in India, it has to continue with these developments to live up to the expectations of the world from itself in 21st century.

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