The Indian space agency has truly been a role model Organisation for India, a self driven and motivated Governmental agency, which shows wisdom to plan its own long term perspective and technological advancements.
With Chandrayaan-2’s successful Moon rendezvous by the Orbiter (though the partial mission of Lander is still not clear due to communication limbo presently), it may surprise many that within a short journey of just half a century, India has been established as a Space power to reckon with. The red planet Mars has already been approached, and Moon Missions Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2 (partially) accomplished successfully, India is now destined to launch series of Space Missions in this coming 20s decade.
The Indian space agency has truly been a role model Organisation for India, a self driven and motivated Governmental agency, which shows wisdom to plan its own long term perspective and technological advancements. It is well known that every setback in Space research programme World over have only resulted in scientific re-strengthening of foundation to achieve larger and more complex missions next.
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“We can safely say that Chandrayaan-2 Lunar perfect landing (soft touch down) has simply got delayed today, when communication with the Lander was lost, and subsequent Lander and Rover to be sent by ISRO as part of Chandrayaan-3 shall be more advanced, with denser scientific payloads. Mission Gaganyaan to put an Indian into space by ISRO has already been launched and ISRO has programmes like Aditya L-1 Mission for the study of Sun and other on-going research,” opines Milind Kulshreshtha, Artificial Intelligence and C4I expert.
According to Kulshreshtha, “ISRO has been very sensitive to the expenditure of public money and, despite being part of a developing nation since its inception; the hard work culture amongst the highly motivated and brilliant scientific team has delivered to Space exploration continuously and consistently. It can be seen as an example of a Governmental agency delivering ‘much more with much less’. This only speaks highly of planning, management and brilliance of scientists with a hands-on approach to work.”
Cost of important missions
The budget of Indian lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 was merely Rs 386 crore (about $76 million) which included Rs 53 crore (about $11 million) for Payload development, Rs 83 crores (about $17 million) for Spacecraft Bus, Rs 100 crores ($20 million) towards the establishment of Deep Space Network, Rs 100 crores ($20 million) for the PSLV launch vehicle. This also includes Rs 50 crores ($10 million) which was used for setting up the scientific data centre, and for external network support.
Chandrayaan-2 carries expenditure of Rs 978 crore (approximately $141 million) which includes Rs 603 crore for space segment and Rs 375 crore as launch costs on GSLV Mk III. These figures are so low that they have been compared to a Hollywood movie’s budget, of all things.
“When compared to thousands of billions of dollars spent by NASA to-date, ISRO has been very efficient and effective and may be seen as a technologist fuelled effort rather than budget fuelled,” Kulshreshtha points out.
ISRO has always kept India in the forefront of Space research, an area where many Developed nations have not been able to reach due lack of technological background. And then without any doubt, the credit goes to larger than life ISRO scientists of the past who have left behind an encouraging and ever striving work culture.
Maybe, ISRO’s motivation to always do better is fuelled by the challenge to overcome the last failure and to be more adventurous than the previous mission. Space research is truly not money fuelled effort like an Airline Industry, but expertise gained over generations, with no shortcuts to success. Today we may not be aware, but in the near future, ISRO’s efforts in Space research could be the money gyrator for Indian economy (through Moon mining etc.).Notwithstanding the commercials, the prestige and technological advancements and the bright future it promises, ISRO shall forever remain the golden child of India.
History of ISRO
It all started in the early 1960s when the Tokyo Olympic Games were transmitted live in the US. Dr Vikram Sarabhai is considered as the founding father of space programmes in India. The primary objective of ISRO has been to develop space technology and its application to various national needs. And the journey has been interesting. After facing many challenges, the Space Agency has reached a point where it is focusing on everything indigenous.
ISRO has achieved rocketry expertise despite specific sanctions imposed by the US for technology transfer, be it under Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) guidelines or India’s Nuclear programme.
ISRO’s Space Launch Vehicles & Satellites
ISRO’s stable has boasted of impressive Launchers, or Launch Vehicles used to transport spacecraft from Earth to space after SLV-3. These included vehicles ASLV of the past to the present Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). To date, INSAT-4CR weighing 2130 kg launched by GSLV-F04 on September 2, 2007, holds the record for heaviest satellite launched from India.
The GSLV has an indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage and transfers up to 2 tonne class of communication satellites into space. The GSLV MK III part of the GSLV programme has an enhanced capability of 4-tonne class satellite transfer and was used for Chandrayaan-2 launch. Already research is going on to make rockets based on Scramjet technology to meet future needs.
Satellite Communication has been the backbone of facilities like Television, DTH Broadcasting, VSAT etc. and these applications have outgrown from social welfare schemes to commercial services and making satellite-based telecommunication as need of every home. On a regular basis, ISRO also undertakes launch of Military satellites (or dual-use technology platforms like Cartosat etc.) which provide strategic advantages to Indian Defence forces.