In the new millennium, the international astronomy community is planning many space missions to launch powerful telescopes that will push the boundaries of astronomy knowledge like never before.
In the Indian context, around fifty Indian astronomers from various institutions and universities met around 1996 to deliberate on a dedicated astronomy mission which could be developed and launched by ISRO primarily for studying stellar objects. Working groups were formed by ISRO to study the various possible scenarios. The community then submitted a science plan to ISRO in 2000. Based on this document, ISRO decided in 2002 to develop a set of four complex X-ray payloads that were identified for this mission. An Ultra-Violet Imaging Telescope was also included in the mission after further discussion.
This ambitious Indian mission was expected to provide Indian scientists with access to new electromagnetic windows, a capability to explore exotic objects like white dwarfs, neutrons stars and black holes, and a potential for new exciting discoveries. In addition, this project would be helpful to train a new generation of young scientists in astronomy research and analysis of big data.
Hence, a detailed investigation was undertaken which looked at scientific objectives, design specifications, development of science payloads, spacecraft main bus elements, launch, data reception, data management and utilization by scientists, budget, human resources and time schedules. Based on this study, the Government of India approved ISRO’s proposal for the multi-wavelength astronomical observatory mission, ASTROSAT in 2004.