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Sky is not the limit for ISRO

TOI Traces Isro’s Journey From The Days It Used A Church As A Launchpad To Its Moon Mission Now Once seeking foreign help, agency now rubs shoulders with the best

, TNN|
Aug 16, 2019, 10.45 AM IST
(This story originally appeared in on Aug 15, 2019)
From the Satellite Telecommunication Experiments Project (STEP) that took the first televisions to Indian villages much before India officially had TVs to real-time satellitebased advisories being sent to fishermen nowadays, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has led India’s development from the adolescence of Independence to present-day advancements.

As the space agency prepares for another eventful year having successfully launched its second mission to Moon, it has achieved another major milestone. August 15, India’s 73rd Independence Day, also marks the golden jubilee year for Isro, which was founded on this day in 1969. The year also marks the centenary year of Vikram Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space programme.

When India’s space programme was first conceived, it had a clear priority that space science must first help its citizens, which is why the focus was on earth observation and communication. Vikram Sarabhai had once famously said, “We have no fantasies of landing people on Moon or studying planets.” This was not lack of ambition as much as it was a result of a different vision: Make India self-reliant using space technology.

Today, space agency chairman K Sivan says: “Sarabhai’s vision that space science and technology must be used for the benefit of the common man has been the guiding force for Isro. And, all our programmes were centred around this vision, which led to several applications.”

Another senior scientist, while claiming that Isro is still committed to meeting the growing demands of the common man, whether it is in the form of communication satellite, remote sensing or earth observation satellite, said that huge strides have been made by the space agency in the last 50 years.

Isro, which was once depended heavily on foreign help to build and launch its satellites, today helps other countries launch their satellites. In fact, on February 15, 2017, the Indian agency had launched 104 satellites, mostly foreign, in one go, making a world record that still stands.

In the past three years, Isro has launched 239 commercial satellites helping Isro’s commercial arm, Antrix Corporation, garner Rs 6,289 crore revenue. Today, it is able to rub shoulders with the best in the business. One example is Nasa-Isro Synthetic Aperture Radar (Nisar) project, in which, Isro is an equal partner with the US space agency and not an agency seeking Big Brother’s help. It is also planning a joint mission with Japan to explore Moon and another joint project with Nasa for Mars exploration.

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