India has for the first time successfully brought a space capsule back to earth. Until now, only the United States, Russia and China had similar expertise in re entry technology. The success also takes the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) a step closer to its goal of putting an Indian in space some years from now.
On Monday, ISRO officials said the 550-kg recoverable space capsule -- called Space capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE-1) -- that was launched on January 10 had returned to the earth's atmosphere, splashing down in the Bay of Bengal, about 140 km east of the Sriharikota coast at 9.46 am, exactly as planned.
It demonstrated ISRO’s ability to build a capsule that could endure temperatures of more than 1,200 degrees Celsius while re-entering the earth's atmosphere after a space expedition.
Retrieved by a Coast Guard team, SRE-1 will be taken to the Sriharikota Range by road on Tuesday for ISRO scientists to take a close look at the heat-resistant tiles that protected it during the re-entry phase.
ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair said, “SRE-I is an important beginning for providing a low-cost platform for micro-gravity experiments in space science and technology and the return of specimen from space.” Dr SC Chakravarthy, programme director (space science), ISRO, who monitored the touchdown from ISTRAC (ISRO's Telemetry, Tracking & Command Network) station on the outskirts of Bangalore, said, “We are very happy with the outcome of this experiment because it will lead to new things -- certainly to a manned mission into space.”