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         the flight of Rohini-125 rocket. Today known as the Satish Dhawan Space Centre-SHAR, it is a world-famous spaceport.
However, on December 30, 1971, the nation received a rude shock. Dr Sarabhai passed away at the age of only 52 years at Kovalam.
After the unexpected demise of Dr Sarabhai, Professor MGK Menon be- came the chairman of ISRO for a brief period. Thereafter, another stalwart of India’s space research, Prof Satish Dha- wan took charge. Under him, the Indian space programme began to take shape, as was envisioned by Dr Sarabhai.
SSTC at Thiruvananthapuram was renamed as Vikram Sarabhai Space Cen- tre in 1972 and is the lead centre of ISRO for launch vehicle design and develop- ment. The same year, Space Applications Centre (SAC) was formed at Ahmedabad to design and realise all the payloads of ISRO satellites and their applications.
U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), Bengaluru, formerly known as ISRO Sat- ellite Centre (ISAC) was also established in 1972. Today, it is the lead centre for building satellites and developing associ- ated satellite technologies.
The Department of Space (DOS) 44 SCIENCE INDIA APRIL 2021
and the Space Commission were also set up in 1972.The main function of Space Commission is to frame and ap- prove policies which are implemented through DOS. ISRO was formalised as the executive agency of the DOS.
With the SITE experiment, television in India entered the life of rural popula- tion of 2,400 villages spanning six states, making it the largest sociological experi- ment in the world. It was an impressive feat for a fledgling space programme.
The success of SITE was followed by a series of experiments, like the Kheda Communications Project (KCP) in 1975 that worked as a field lab for need-based and locale-specific programme transmis- sion in the Kheda district of Gujarat.
Satellite Telecommunication Ex- periments Project (STEP) initiated in 1977 was aimed to test possible use of a geosynchronous satellite for domestic telecommunication. STEP also provided the scope for gaining insight into instal- lation, operation and maintenance of various ground segment facilities and build up requisite for indigenous com- petence for the proposed operational domestic satellite system, the Indian Na- tional Satellite System, popularly known as INSAT.
The SITE and STEP experiments were the stepping stones towards the conceptualisation of Indian National Satellite System (INSAT). Objectives of the program were to provide instruc- tional TV to at least 80% of the popula- tion and enable modern long-distance telecommunications.
In 1981, experimental communi- cation satellite APPLE was built indig- enously and launched from European Space Agency’s Ariane rocket. It gave ISRO confidence to develop large com- munication satellites for domestic use.
INSAT was a series of multipurpose Geo-stationary satellites to satisfy the telecommunications, broadcasting, me- teorology, and search and rescue needs of India. Commissioned in 1983, the first four of INSAT series satellites were built by Ford Aerospace of USA. Later, ISRO built these satellites ingeniously
At the same time, ISRO started building the launch capability for self- reliance in launching satellites. Under the leadership of Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, the launch vehicle project like SLV-3 was conceived and subsequently, ASLV demonstrated various technologies and paved way for the robust design of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
The ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru

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