INDIA IN SPACE
For the common man in this country space is associated with the name of Sq. Ldr. Rakesh Sharma, the only Indian so far visit the space aboard Soyuz T-U of Soviet Union on April 5, 1984. It was a short journey fulfilling the ambition of India to have an astronaut. It was actually on achievement for India—a mere lift given by a space traveler to an Indian too. India has not yet enjoyed the luxury of having a space ship of her own. We can afford the fabulous cost. Moreover it has no utility for a country that has been spearheading programs for peace.
Indian scientists and statesman did not want to probe the space as much as they wanted to probe the earth from space. The programme had already been launched by different countries—specially the USA, former, USSR and West European countries. The intentions were not fair. Besides probing into the natural wealth of the earth they probe into the army installations of other countries. The spaceships became the third eye of different countries.
India has no intention to interfere in the affairs of other countries. On the contrary we have cooperated with the USA, the former USSR, France, The UK, the Federal Republic of Germany and European Space Agency in making headway in the field of using spacecrafts for peace-fill purposes. The space programmes of India began with the setting up of rocket launching station at Thumba, a village near Thiruvananthapuram in 1963. The Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station became the nucleus for the growth of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization).It has, now seven associate centers two at Ahmadabad, three at Bangalore, and one at Sriharikota and one at Thiruvananthapuram.
The Indian satellite launching programme was started in 1982 with the unsuccessful launching of INSAT-IA-INSAT-IC also met the same fate. But IB launched from Kennedy space Centre, Florida in 1983 and ID from Cape Canaveral in 1990 was great success. They provided telecommunication facilities and were of a greet help in radio and were of a greet help in radio and television network and weather checking. Since these four satellites were made by a US Communication Corporation India can hardly take full credit for their achievement. We had to wait till 1991 for the indigenously developed spacecrafts.
The launching of Aryabhatta in 1975, Bhaskara-1 in 1979 and Bhaskara-II in 1981 was a landmark in the Indian satellite programme. The three satellites were launched by Soviet rocket carrier. They carried TV camera and microwave radiometer for studying and observing hydrology, snow melting, oceanography and forestry on the Earth.
After launching IRS (India Remote Sensing Satellite) – IA from the former USSR on March 7, 1988 the Indian Space Programme took a leap by launchings IRS-IB again from Baikanur cosmodrome in the former USSR. Both the satellites were indigenously built. IRS-IB is equipped with LISS (linear imaging self screening) camera. The satellite became fully operational on 15th of September, 1991. As now both the satellites have been working together they cover the country every 12 days. IRS-IA had sent 3.5 lakhs pictures by September 1, 1991. The data sent by these satellites will be useful in estimating yield of crops, estimation of ground water and forest wealth. IRS P2 was launched by India’s own launch vehicle PALV – D2 in October 1994. It was followed by IRS-ID satellite launched on October 7, 1997. As we have our own satellites we have not to depend upon other countries for space oriented telecommunications. The satellites have given a boost to the space programmes for peaceful productive purposes making India an Important member of the club of progressive countries.