Indian Space Research Organisation
Indian Space Research Organisation Logo.svg
ISRO logo (adopted in 2002)[1][2]
Formation15 August 1969; 50 years ago (1969-08-15)
(succeeding INCOSPAR)
HeadquartersBengaluru, Karnataka, India
12°57′56″N 77°41′53″E / 12.96556°N 77.69806°E / 12.96556; 77.69806Coordinates: 12°57′56″N 77°41′53″E / 12.96556°N 77.69806°E / 12.96556; 77.69806
K. Sivan (Chairman)[3]
Parent organisation
Department of Space
Increase 12,587 crore (US$1.8 billion)
(FY 2020–21)[5][additional citation(s) needed]
17,222 as of 2020[6]

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO, /ˈɪsr/) (Hindi; IAST: bhārtīya antrikṣ anusandhān saṅgṭhan) is the space agency of the Government of India and has its headquarters in the city of Bengaluru. Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research & planetary exploration".[7] The Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was established in the tenure of Jawaharlal Nehru[8][9][10][11][12] under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in 1962, with the urging of scientist Vikram Sarabhai recognizing the need in space research. INCOSPAR grew and became ISRO in 1969,[13] also under the DAE.[14][15] In 1972, Government of India had setup a Space Commission and the Department of Space (DOS),[16] bringing ISRO under the DOS. The establishment of ISRO thus institutionalized space research activities in India.[17] It is managed by the DOS, which reports to the prime minister of India.[18]

ISRO built India's first satellite, Aryabhata, which was launched by the Soviet Union on 19 April 1975.[19] It was named after the mathematician Aryabhata. In 1980, Rohini became the first satellite to be placed in orbit by an Indian-made launch vehicle, SLV-3. ISRO subsequently developed two other rockets: the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for launching satellites into polar orbits and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) for placing satellites into geostationary orbits. These rockets have launched numerous communications satellites and Earth observation satellites. Satellite navigation systems like GAGAN and IRNSS have been deployed. In January 2014, ISRO used an indigenous cryogenic engine in a GSLV-D5 launch of the GSAT-14.[20][21]

ISRO sent a lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan-1, on 22 October 2008, which discovered lunar water in the form of ice,[22] and the Mars Orbiter Mission, on 5 November 2013, which entered Mars orbit on 24 September 2014, making India the first nation to succeed on its maiden attempt to Mars, as well as the first space agency in Asia to reach Mars orbit.[23] On 18 June 2016, ISRO launched twenty satellites in a single vehicle,[24] and on 15 February 2017, ISRO launched one hundred and four satellites in a single rocket (PSLV-C37), a world record.[25][26] ISRO launched its heaviest rocket, Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III), on 5 June 2017 and placed a communications satellite GSAT-19 in orbit. With this launch, ISRO became capable of launching 4-ton heavy satellites into GTO. On 22 July 2019, ISRO launched its second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 to study the lunar geology and the distribution of lunar water.

Future plans include development of the Unified Launch Vehicle, Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, development of a reusable launch vehicle, human spaceflight, a space station, interplanetary probes, and a solar spacecraft mission.[27]

Formative years

An Arcas rocket being loaded into launch tube at Thumba Launching Station. In the early days of ISRO, rocket parts were often transported on bicycles and bullock carts.[28]

Modern space research in India is traced to the 1920s, when scientist S. K. Mitra conducted a series of experiments leading to the sounding of the ionosphere by applying ground-based radio methods in Kolkata.[29] Later, Indian scientists like C.V. Raman and Meghnad Saha contributed to scientific principles applicable in space sciences.[29] However, it was the period after 1945 that saw important developments being made in coordinated space research in India.[29] Organised space research in India was spearheaded by two scientists: Vikram Sarabhai—founder of the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad—and Homi Bhabha, who established the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in 1945.[29] Engineers were drawn from the Indian Ordnance Factories on deputation to harness their knowledge of propellants and advanced metallurgy as the Ordnance factories were the only organisation specialising in these technologies at that time.[citation needed] Initial experiments in space sciences included the study of cosmic radiation, high altitude and airborne testing, deep underground experimentation at the Kolar mines—one of the deepest mining sites in the world—and studies of the upper atmosphere.[30] Studies were carried out at research laboratories, universities, and independent locations.[30][31]

In 1950, the Department of Atomic Energy was founded with Bhabha as its secretary.[31] The department provided funding for space research throughout India.[32] During this time, tests continued on aspects of meteorology and the Earth's magnetic field, a topic that was being studied in India since the establishment of the observatory at Colaba in 1823. In 1954, the Uttar Pradesh state observatory was established at the foothills of the Himalayas.[31] The Rangpur Observatory was set up in 1957 at Osmania University, Hyderabad. Space research was further encouraged by the government of India.[32] In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 and opened up possibilities for the rest of the world to conduct a space launch.[32]

The Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was set up in 1962.[8]

Goals and objectives

Vikram Sarabhai, first chairperson of INCOSPAR, which would later be called ISRO

The prime objective of ISRO is to use space technology and its application to various national tasks.[33] The Indian space programme was driven by the vision of Vikram Sarabhai, considered the father of the Indian space programme.[34][35] As he said in 1969:

There are some who question the relevance of space activities in a developing nation. To us, there is no ambiguity of purpose. We do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the exploration of the Moon or the planets or manned space-flight. But we are convinced that if we are to play a meaningful role nationally, and in the community of nations, we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society, which we find in our country. And we should note that the application of sophisticated technologies and methods of analysis to our problems is not to be confused with embarking on grandiose schemes, whose primary impact is for show rather than for progress measured in hard economic and social terms.

Former president of India, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, said:

Very many individuals with myopic vision questioned the relevance of space activities in a newly independent nation which was finding it difficult to feed its population. But neither Prime Minister Nehru nor Prof. Sarabhai had any ambiguity of purpose. Their vision was very clear: if Indians were to play meaningful role in the community of nations, they must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to their real-life problems. They had no intention of using it merely as a means of displaying our might.

India's economic progress has made its space program more visible and active as the country aims for greater self-reliance in space technology.[38] In 2008, India launched as many as eleven satellites, including nine foreign and went on to become the first nation to launch ten satellites on one rocket.[38] ISRO has put into operation two major satellite systems: the Indian National Satellites (INSAT) for communication services, and the Indian Remote Sensing Programme (IRS) satellites for management of natural resources.

In July 2012, Abdul Kalam said that research was being done by ISRO and DRDO for developing cost-reduction technologies for access to space.[39]

Organisation structure and facilities

The organisational structure of the Department of Space of the Government of India

ISRO is managed by the Department of Space (DoS) of the Government of India. DoS itself falls under the authority of the Space Commission and manages the following agencies and institutes:[40][41][42]