Page 45 - April 2021
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        Today, India has the largest domestic fleet of advanced communication satel- lites, including the modern high through- put spot beam satellites.
In a similar vein, ISRO had made prog- ress in the development of earth obser- vation satellites as well. In 1970, Kerala suffered the coconut root-wilt disease, which very badly affected the yield. As the traditional methods for spotting the disease were very tedious and time con- suming, Prof P R Pisharoty successfully carried out a pathbreaking experiment for detecting this using colour-infrared aerial photography from a helicopter. Thus was born the concept of using satel- lites for Earth observation and the seed was sown for the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite programme.
Experimental Remote Sensing Satel- lites Rohini-2 and Bhaskara-2, launched in 1981, were the early steps, and the programme was vigorously pursued. The establishment system started with the launch of IRS-1A in 1988. This was followed by IRS and Resourcesat series for several applications covering agri- culture, water resources, urban develop- ment, mineral prospecting, environment, forestry, drought and flood forecasting.
Today, India is the proud custodian of the world’s largest constellation of re- mote sensing satellites. The Oceansat satellites identify potential fishing zones. The series of Cartosat satellites provides high resolution images of urban areas for effective town planning. In 1980, the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) was also founded in Bengaluru.
This path led to the realisation of the reliable workhorse, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle –PSLV in 1994, when it successfully placed IRS-P2 in the orbit.
In the last 25 years, PSLV has suc- cessfully launched more than 55 Indian and about 300 foreign customer satellites from as many as 32 countries. PSLV also launched landmark missions like Chan- drayaan-1, the Mars Orbiter Mission, and has also created world record of launching 104 satellites in one mission.
The church in Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram, which served as the earliest office of India’s space scientists in early 1960s
 Indian Space programme also con- tinued to develop key infrastructure by instituting new centres and augment the existing ones.
With the operationalisation of PSLV in late nineties, the country attained self- reliance for launching earth observation satellites to LEO. However, our depen- dence on foreign players for launching satellites to geostationary orbit propelled ISRO to develop heavier vehicles like GSLV –Mk II and Mk III.
The first few flights of the GSLV rocket were equipped with Russian Cryogenic stage. Subsequently, ISRO developed C12 Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) and the first successful flight of GSLV-Mk-II with indigenous cryogenic stage took place in January 2014 when GSLV D5 launched GSAT-14 Satellite.
On October 22, 2008, ISRO success- fully launched the country’s first lunar mission Chandrayaan – 1. India had become the fourth country to success- fully send a probe to the surface of the moon. Chandrayaan-2 was successfully launched on July 22, 2019. It inserted the orbiter, lander Vikram and rover Pragyan into the precise orbit. The or- biter is collecting valuable information around the moon but the lander missed to land at the last moment.
The spectacular success of our first interplanetary mission Mangalyaan
in 2013, to the Red Planet, placed the country on a pedestal, which is shared by only a few nations.
IRNSS (Indian Regional Naviga- tion Satellite System) is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by ISRO similar to GPS of USA. It is designed to provide accurate position information service to users approx 1,500 km around the Indian mainland. `
Now, ISRO embarks on few missions on international co-operation like NISAR and interplanetary missions like Aditya (to study the Sun), Chandrayaan-3, Sukrayaan (to Venus) and Mangaly- aan-2. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a very ambitious target for Team ISRO to launch the Human Space- flight Mission Gaganyaan by 2022.
Now the space domain is expand- ing exponentially across the globe. If India has to catch up, it will have to make its space industry truly global. In view of this, the Government of India has announced the opening of oppor- tunities for the private sector with the mentoring and infrastructural support from the DoS. Even today, a majority of the sub-systems and components are produced by Indian industry for launch vehicle and satellites. But they need to supply end-to-end capabilities to be in- dependent.

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