Genesis of ISRO Space Science Program
Science/Genesis of ISRO Space Science Program.
The Indian space science exploration started with the investigations of the Earth’s upper atmosphere and ionosphere. The initial scientific motivation was the study of equatorial objects. In the year 1963, the first sounding rocket was launched from Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) near Thiruvananthapuram. Subsequent to this, several investigations were carried out of upper atmospheric region using rocket-borne instruments through sounding rockets. These rocket based experiments provided initial opportunities to conduct scientific investigations of high altitude upper regions of the Earth’s magnetic equator which was not accessible through balloons. Till today, more than 3500 sounding rocket launches have been carried out successfully by ISRO with national and international participation. The TERLS Range is dedicated to the United Nations since 1968 and all member countries of the UN are welcomed to use the TERLS facility for scientific research. At present multiple varieties of sounding rockets such as RH-200, RH-300 Mk-II and RH-560-Mk-III are operational with different payload capacity and apogee ranges.
Starting from the sounding rocket experiments, ISRO has developed the technologies for various launch vehicles, satellites and payloads over the next six decades contributing to achievements of ISRO’s vision of utilization of space for societal development. The seeds sown in 60s, more than six decades ago have fructified in developing indigenous capabilities providing independent access to space, along with a plethora of space-based services helping in transforming India.
The space science and exploration missions undertaken during the second level of growth of the space programme such as the Chandrayaan-1, Mars Orbiter Mission, AstroSat and Chandrayaan-2 missions have yielded and continue to provide valuable scientific data and are contributing to the global knowledge base of the cosmos. ISRO is also planning a human space flight mission in low earth orbit in near future which will open opportunities for microgravity experiments for various cutting edge scientific investigations