Chandrayaan-2 launch: A look at space agency’s major achievements
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch its second mission to the moon — Chandrayaan-2 — on July 15 in what it said would be the most complex operation ever to be undertaken by the space agency.
The mission, expected to reach the moon by September 6-7, will be the first such operation near the south pole of the moon and will make India just the fourth country to complete a soft landing on the lunar surface.
The project is set to cost Rs 978 crore - 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).
Here’s a look at its big achievements over the years as the space agency adds another feather in its cap:
ISRO launches super surveillance satellite, 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.
Watch| 3 days to Chandrayaan 2 launch: ISRO explains most ambitious mission
100th satellite launch, 2018: ISRO 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.
Launching 104 satellites in a single mission, 2017: On February 15, 2017, ISRO garnered international attention when it launched 104 satellites using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), an Indian rocket. The launch took place at Sriharikota and successfully managed to put these satellites into their desired orbit in one go. 101 were foreign satellites out of the 104 launched. It also included the Cartostat-2 series, India’s earth observation satellite.
Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, 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.
Launching 20 satellites, 2016: Before it made the 104 satellite record, in June, 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, 2016: In May, ISRO successfully tested the Reusable Launch Vehicle — Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) that 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.
Mangalyaan, 2014: 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, 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 soon after.
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.
Indian National Satellite System (INSAT), 1983: Launched by ISRO, INSAT is a series of multi-purpose 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, 1975: The Aryabhatta 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. 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.