SPACE AGE ENTRY
Within a space of three decades since independence India has made great progress in science and technology, thanks to the foundations laid by scientists like Homi Bhaba with the enlightened support of Pt. Jawahar Lai Nehru.
India launched its first rocket on November, 28, 1963 from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Site. In 1968 this site was formally dedicated to the United Nations Organization (UNO), when India repeated its policy of peaceful use of space research. India has been associated with several countries like the U.S.A., Soviet Russia, France, West Germany, Great Britain and Japan in many joint ventures. More than 600 sounding rockets, foreign and Indian, have been launched during the last two decades or more from the Thumba Launching Site for collecting meteorological studies. Even now as part of the programme called Monasc-77, four Russian and two Indian ships are stationed in the Indian Ocean to carry out joint studies relating to weather conditions (meteorology) and oceanography, sea currents and the extent of salt in sea, sea water and temperature at different levels, etc.
The first global experiment was started in 1979. Several nations participated in this experiment using five satellites looking towards the region near the Equator to study the monsoon over India-how it occurs, why it advances or recedes, why it varies from year to year, and so on.
The second experiment was known as the Satellite Television Experiment (SITE) which was a great advance in India space programme. Through a satellite loaned by the U.S.A., it became possible to send T. V. programmes to 2400 remote villages in six different states of the country. By adopting a relay system these T.V. programmes were sent to 2500 other villages near urban areas. The experiment was aimed at spreading literacy, improving health and sanitation, introducing modern methods of agriculture and bringing about a fellow feeling and oneness and unity among the people.
On 7th June, 1979, India’s second space satellite BHASKARA was launched into space from a Soviet cosmodrome. Compared to Aryabhata, Bhaskara was later on used in the Himalayan regions and in eight states of India, Bihar, UP., Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The experiments were useful in the subjects of hydrology, data about snow-cover and snow melting, geology, soils, land use and ocean surface studies.
With a view to gaining firsthand knowledge of the latest techniques in satellite communication, India is now participating in an experiment called the Arianne Passenger payload Experiment (APPLE). The APPLE is aimed at gaining experience in the design, development and operation of a satellite communications payload, demonstrating the use of high power, high efficiency Travelling Wave Tube Amplifiers (TWTA) for T.V. broadcasting applications and gaining experience in solid state devices through C-Band communications for delivering fixed satellite service capabilities.
APPLE was launched from Kauron in French Guinea in June 1981. It has by now completed five years is space, achieving all its set goals despite a damaged solar panel. So far over 80,000 commands have been issued to the satellite. The primary aim of this satellite was to acquire satellite technology and carry out a number of future programmes. The experience gained would help Indian scientists to build the second generation operation satellite. Experiments such as facsimile printing of newspapers, emergency communications during cyclone relief operations in Gujarat and the T.V. hook up for national events have demonstrated further the potential space communications.
On November 10, 1981 India launched Bhaskara-II, and Satellite Insat-IA was launched on April 10, 1982, India has now become one of the seven countries orbiting their own rockets, the others being the U.S.A., Soviet Russia, France, Japan, China and Great Britain.
Seven more earth stations are being set up in different parts of India for providing domestic telecommunication links through satellites. These earth stations will use for this purpose the Indian Ocean satellite, INTELSAT (to be followed later on by INTELSAT.A), which handles overseas calls through the two existing stations at Dehra Dun and Arvi (near Pune). The seven stations are being located in Delhi, Madras, Leh (J & K), Nicobar, Port Blair (Andamans). Kavaratti(Lakshdweep Island) and one in the north-eastern region.
Another landmark in space technology will be achieved when India’s experiments in space, Anuradha, to study low energy cosmic rays which have baffled scientists ever since they were discovered ten years ago was slow to the USA in September, 1984 and was on spacelab-3 in the space shuttle. The experiment will provide major clues towards the understanding of cosmic rays which in turn give an insight into the origin and evolution of life in the universe.