A Timeline Of Isro's Journey From Aryabhata To PSCVC-37(1962-2017)

Space, 31 Mar - 2017 ,

A Timeline Of Isro's Journey From Aryabhata To PSCVC-37(1962-2017)
Credit: ISRO

Today ISRO is counted amongst top six government space agencies in the world and has thousands of scientists and technical experts of various fields working for future space missions

Today ISRO is counted amongst top six government space agencies in the world and has thousands of scientists and technical experts of various fields working for future space missions. ISRO has recorded more than 100 successful space missions.

Space research in India began in the 1920s with studies conducted by scientists S K Mitra, C V Raman and Meghnad Saha. However, it was only from the 1940s and 50s that institutionalised probe into space related activities started gaining nationwide attention.

The space research activities were initiated in our country during the early 1960’s, when applications using satellites were in experimental stages even in the United States. With the live transmission of Tokyo Olympic Games across the Pacific by the American Satellite ‘Syncom-3’ demonstrating the power of communication satellites, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, the founding father of Indian space programme, quickly recognized the benefits of space technologies for India. Dr. Sarabhai was convinced and envisioned that the resources in space have the potential to address the real problems of man and society. As Director, Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) located in Ahmedabad, Dr. Sarabhai convened an army of able and brilliant scientists, anthropologists, communicators and social scientists from all corners of the country to spearhead the Indian space programme.  History of space activities in India reached its first milestone in 1962 when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru along with scientist Vikram Sarabhai established the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR). Following the establishment of the INCOSPAR, the first rocket launch from India took place in November 1963.

Why  Sriharikota is an ideal launch pad?

Sriharikota, a spindle-shaped island on the East coast of Andhra Pradesh. It is the only spaceport in India from where satellites are launched.

Near the sea

Once a rocket ignites and lifts off, there's not much control over it even if it deviates from its set path or does not follow its trajectory. If such a situation however occurs, a destruct command is given out. This command destroys or completely disintegrates the rocket and makes it fall into the sea.

Near to the Equator 

If the launch location is near to the Equator, a lot of fuel can be saved. The Equator falls towards the south in India- along with the country also having a 7,500km long coast line- and so several places in the southern region of India

Stable geographical platform 

The landmass available should be should be solid enough to withstand the intense vibrations produced during the launch

A timeline of Isro's journey

1962 - Indian National Committee for Space Research set up by the Department of Atomic Energy.

1963 - First sounding rocket launched from TERLS Nov 21. Sounding rockets are one or two stage solid propellant rockets used for probing the upper atmospheric regions and for space research. They also serve as easily affordable platforms to test or prove prototypes of new components or subsystems intended for use in launch vehicles and satellites. 

1965 - Space Science & Technology Centre (SSTC) established in Thumba on 1 Jan 1965.

1976- Satellite Telecommunication Earth Station set up at Ahmedabad on 1 Jan 1967.

1968 - Experimental Satellite Communication Earth Station set up in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

1969 - Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) formed.

1971 - Satish Dhawan Space Centre formed in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

1972 - Department of Space (DoS) established and ISRO brought under it.

1975 - First Indian satellite, Aryabhata, launched into space April 19. The Aryabhata spacecraft that was named after the famous Indian astronomer was the country’s first satellite. It marked a milestone in India’s space programme because it was completely designed in the country and launched from a Russian facility in 1975.

1977 - Satellite Telecommuncation Experiments Project

1979 - Bhaskara-1 and Launch Vehicle (SLV-3) Launched.

1980 - Second time SLV-3 launched with Rohini. Mission successful.

1981 - Rohini placed into orbit.

1982 - Launched Insat-1A communication satellite.

1983 - Second developmental flight of SLV-3 placed Rohini into orbit.

1984 - First Indian cosmonaut, Rakesh Sharma, spends eight days in Russian space station Salyut 7.

1987 – Launched ASLV with satellite SROSS-1.

1988 - Launch of Indian Remote Sensing satellite - IRA-1A

1991 - Launch remote sensing satellite IRS-1B.

1992 - First successful launch of ASLV.

1993 - It was developed in the 1990s and has become the Indian space mission’s most reliable workhorse. The PSLV carried out its first mission in 1993 but its first successful outing was the next year. For the next 20 years, it launched various satellites for historic missions such as the Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan. PSLV remains a favourite among various organisations as a launch service provider and has launched over 40 satellites for 19 countries. 

1994 - Successful launch of PSLV with IRS-P2.

1996 - Launch of PSLV with IRS-P3.

1997 - Launch of PSLV with IRS-1D.

1999 - PSLV started carrying foreign satellites

2001 - Successful launch of GSLV

2002 - Launch of Kalpana-1 satellite.

2003 - Launch of GSat-2.

2004 - Launch of Edusat.

2005 - Launch of Cartosat-1 and Hamsat by PSLV.

2006 - Launch of of GSLV with Insat-4C.

2007 - Launch of Cartosat-2.

2008 - Launch of Israeli satellite Tecsar by PSLV. India's first moon mission Chandrayaan-1 by PSLV. India’s first unmanned lunar probe was launched almost a decade ago and was a landmark in India’s space mission. Isro joined an elite list of just six space organisations to send an orbiter to the moon. A Tricolor was hoisted on the moon but Isro lost contact with Chandrayaan soon after.

2009 - Launch of Radar Imaging Satellite (Risat-2).

2010 - Launch of Cartosat-2B, STUDSAT and three small foreign satellites by PSLV.

2011 - Launch of Resourcest-2 and two small satellites by PSLV.

2012 - Launch of Risat-1 by PSLV.

2013- Successful launches of PSLV-C22 with India’s first indigenous Regional Navigation SatelliteIRNSS-1Aon 1st July 2013 and the PSLV-C25/Mars Orbiter Mission on 5th November 2013.

2014- The GSLV D5 was successfully launched on 5thJanuary, 2014.  The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan, was India’s first interplanetary mission to the planet Mars. India became the first country in the world to insert a spacecraft into the Martian orbit in its very first attempt. The MOM entered Mars orbit on 24 September 2014. India joined an exclusive global club when it successfully launched the Mars Orbiter Mission on a shoestring budget that was at least 10 times lower than a similar project by the US. The Rs 450-crore project revolved round the Red Planet and to collect data on Mars’ atmosphere and mineral composition. GSLV Mk-III, the first experimental flight of ISRO's heaviest and upgraded rocket vehicle was launched on December 18, 2014 from Sriharikota.


2015: Launch of India's 4th navigational satellite. 100 days of Mangalyaan. ISRO launches five British satellites. Astrosat, India's first dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory, was successfully launched onboard a PSLV-C30 rocket on September 28, 2015. India's latest communication satellite GSAT-15 was successfully launched by Ariane-5 rocket on early morning of November 11, 2015 from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana.

2016- PSLV-C31

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its 33rd flight (PSLV-C31), launches IRNSS-1E, the fifth satellite of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). The launch took place from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota on January 20, 2016 at 09:31 Hrs (IST).



Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its thirty fourth flight (PSLV-C32), launches IRNSS-1F, the sixth satellite of the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS). The launch took place on March 10 2016  from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty third consecutively successful mission of PSLV


The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its thirty-fifth flight (PSLV-C33), launches IRNSS-1G, the seventh satellite of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) into a Sub-Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO). The launch took place from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota on April 28, 2016. As in the previous six launches of IRNSS satellites, PSLV-C33 uses ‘XL’ version of PSLV equipped with six strap-ons, each carrying 12 tons of propellant.


RLV-TD was successfully flight tested on May 23, 2016 from SDSC SHAR Sriharikota validating the critical technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance & control, reusable thermal protection system and re-entry mission management.

PSLV-C34 / CARTOSAT-2 Series Satellite

India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its thirty sixth flight (PSLV-C34), launches the 727.5 kg Cartosat-2 Series Satellite for earth observation and 19 co-passenger satellites together weighing about 560 kg at lift–off into a 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). PSLV-C34 was launched from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota on June 22, 2016 at 09:26 hrs (IST). This is the fourteenth flight of PSLV in ‘XL’ configuration (with the use of solid strap-on motors).

The co-passenger satellites are from USA, Canada, Germany and Indonesia as well as two satellites (SATHYABAMASAT and SWAYAM) from Indian University/Academic Institute. The total weight of all the 20 satellites carried onboard PSLV-C34 is about 1288 kg.

Scramjet Engine - TD

The first experimental mission of ISRO’s Scramjet Engine towards the realisation of an Air Breathing Propulsion System was successfully conducted on August 28, 2016 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.


GSLV-F05 is the tenth flight of India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), launching INSAT-3DR, an advanced weather satellite, weighing 2211 kg into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). GSLV is designed to inject 2 - 2.5 Tonne class of satellites into GTO. The launch took place from the Second Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota on September 08, 2016.


India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its thirty-seventh flight (PSLV-C35), launches the 371 kg SCATSAT-1 for weather related studies and seven co-passenger satellites into polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). Co-passenger satellites are ALSAT-1B, ALSAT-2B, ALSAT-1N from Algeria, NLS-19 from Canada and Pathfinder-1 from USA as well as two satellites PRATHAM from IIT Bombay and PISAT from PES University, Bengaluru. SLV-C35 was launched from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota on September 26, 2016.


India's latest communication satellite, GSAT-18 was inducted into the INSAT/GSAT system on October 06, 2016 from Kourou, French Guiana by Ariane-5 VA-231. Weighing 3404 kg at lift-off, GSAT-18 carries 48 communication transponders to provide Services in Normal C-band, Upper Extended C-band and Ku-bands of the frequency spectrum. GSAT-18 carries Ku-band beacon as well to help in an accurately pointing ground antennas towards the satellite.

ISRO successfully launched its seventh and last satellite of Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) constellation, IRNSS-1G into the orbit in April 2016. On 22 June, the Isro launched 20 satellites in one mission, a record for the space agency. Apart from Isro’s own satellites and those built by university students in the country, the mission carried satellites from the US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia. In May, Isro successfully tested the Reusable Launch Vehicle — Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) that was built for Rs 95 crore. 

PSLV-C29 / TeLEOS-1 Mission

India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its thirty-second flight (PSLV-C29), launched six satellites of Singapore into a 550 km circular orbit inclined at 15 degrees to the equator. Of these six satellites, TeLEOS-1 is the primary satellite weighing 400 kg whereas the other five are co-passenger satellites which include two micro-satellites and three nano-satellites. PSLV-C29 was launched from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the eleventh flight of PSLV in 'core-alone' configuration (without the use of solid strap-on motors). "PSLV-C29 Successfully Launches all the Six Satellites from Singapore from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), SHAR, Sriharikota on December 16, 2015"

2017-  Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), India on Wednesday (February 15) scripted history by successfully launching 104 satellites using a single rocket from Sriharikota space centre.

With this achievement, ISRO not only bettered its previous best of sending 20 satellites in to the orbit in a single launch but also dethrowned Russia (37 satellites in one go in 2014) from the top position.

Source: ISRO,firstpost.com, hindustantimes.com, Source: simplydecoded.com, http://indianexpress.com, infoindetail.com, thenewsminute.com, hindustantimes.com

Scientific India Newsletter

Enter your email address:

© 2013-2014 Scientific India Magazine

Note: This website is for educational Purposes only.