India achieved a milestone in its space exploration programme on Monday when it successfully launched multiple satellites from one rocket into two different orbits.
This mission was the longest for the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV C-35) that lifted off from Sriharikota carrying eight satellites — three from India, including the weather satellite SCATSAT-1, three from Algeria, and one each from Canada and the United States.
The achievements are remarkable considering the frugal budget of the Indian Space Research Organisation, which has made a name for itself for low-cost, high-return space missions.
Here’s a look at its top eight achievements:
1 Mangalyaan, 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.
2 Chandrayaan, 2008: 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.
3 Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, 2016: The seven-satellite system created India’s very own satellite navigation system e terrestrial and will provide services in marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, and navigation aide for drivers. Experts said an Indian-owned system will be particularly useful in times of war to gain positional accuracy.
4 Launching 20 satellites, 2016: In 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.
5 Indian National Satellite system, 1983: Known better by its popular name Insat, the system is a network of satellites that facilitates communications and broadcasting across the south Asian region. The first satellite in the series was placed into orbit in 1983 and ushered in a revolution in India’s television and radio broadcasting, telecommunications and meteorological sectors. Nine satellites are operational.
6 Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, 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.
7 Reusable Launch Vehicle, 2016: In May, Isro successfully tested the Reusable Launch Vehicle — Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) that was built for Rs 95 crore. The winged flight vehicle — dubbed as India’s space shuttle — that glided back onto a virtual runway in the Bay of Bengal in a 10-minute mission was the first stage of a fully re-usable vehicle, seen as the future of low cost, reliable and on-demand space access.
8 Aryabhatta, 1975: 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.