Before Chandrayaan-2, these were Isro’s major achievements
When the lander on Chandrayaan 2 touches down on the moon’s surface on September 7, India will become the fourth country to complete a soft landing on the lunar surface and the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will gets another feather in its cap.
Chandrayaan-2, the indigenously designed spacecraft, is expected to touch down on the moon’s south pole surface in the early hours of September 7. Isro’s second lunar mission is a Rs 978 crore project - Rs 603 crore for the spacecraft and Rs 375 crore for the GSLV Mk-III. Chandrayaan-2, with a total mission mass of 3.8 tonne, consists of an orbiter, a lander (Vikram), and a rover (Pragyan).
Watch| Chandrayaan 2 about to create history: The journey so far
The rover, called Pragyan, will examine the lunar surface, search for water, and probe craters and traps that could untangle key questions about the history of the solar system.
Here’s a look at the space agency’s big achievements over the years:
Super spy satellite in 2019: Isro, in its third mission of the year in May this year, successfully put into orbit an earth observation satellite that can see through thick clouds and enhance the country’s surveillance capabilities in military and civilian sectors to keep an eye also on terror camps across the border in Pakistan. Dubbed as a ‘spy’ satellite, RISAT-2B (Radar Imaging Satellite-2B) will replace its predecessor RISAT-2 which has been actively used by India to monitor activities in terror camps across the border in Pakistan to thwart infiltration bids by terrorists. RISAT was successfully launched in 2009.
100th satellite launch in 2018: The agency launched its 100th satellite along with 30 others in a single mission on January 12, 2018, from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Thirty-one spacecraft, including weather observation Cartosat-2 series satellite, were launched by PSLV-C40. Out of the 31, 28 satellites were foreign, while three were from India.
104 satellites launched in a single mission in 2017: Isro garnered international attention on February 15, 2017, when it launched 104 satellites using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), an indigenous rocket. The successful launch from Sriharikota managed to put these satellites into their desired orbit in one go. There were 101 foreign satellites out of the 104 launched. It also included the Cartostat-2 series, India’s earth observation satellite.
Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System in 2016: The seven-satellite system created India’s very own satellite navigation system that could potentially offer services like terrestrial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, a navigation aid for hikers and travellers, visual and voice navigation for drivers. The launch of the seventh navigation satellite brought India much closer to the ‘GPS club’. Experts said an Indian-owned system will be particularly useful in times of war to gain positional accuracy.
20 satellites launched in 2016: Isro launched 20 satellites in one mission, a personal best for the space agency. Apart from the space agency’s own satellites and those built by university students in the country, the mission carried satellites from the US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia.
Reusable Launch Vehicle in 2016: Isro successfully tested the Reusable Launch Vehicle — Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), which was built on a budget of 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 reusable vehicle. A reusable launch vehicle can bring down launch costs by up to ten times.
MOM or Mangalyaan in 2013: India joined an exclusive global club when it successfully launched the Mars Orbiter Mission on a shoestring budget that was at least ten times lower than a similar project by the US. Only the United States, Russia and Europe have previously sent missions to Mars, but what made India’s achievement stand out was that it succeeded on its first attempt, which even the Americans and the Soviets could not. The Rs 450-crore project revolved around the Red Planet and to collect data on Mars’ atmosphere and mineral composition.
Chandrayaan-1 in 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 Tricolour was hoisted on the moon but the space agency lost contact with Chandrayaan-1 soon after.
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in 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.
INSAT in 1983: Indian National Satellite System is a series of multipurpose geostationary satellites. It helped with telecommunications, broadcasting, meteorology, and search and rescue operations. The satellites built a communication system all across the Asia Pacific region. There are nine working satellites in the group.
Aryabhatta in 1975: Named after the famous Indian astronomer, Aryabhatta was the country’s first satellite. It marked a milestone in India’s space programme as it was completely designed in the country and launched from a Russian facility in 1975. 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.