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Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the space exploration agency of the Government of India. Its headquarter is in Bengaluru.


Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the space exploration agency of the Government of India. Its headquarter is in Bengaluru. It is among the top six government space agencies in the world where various scientists and technical experts of different fields are working for future space missions. Do you know that ISRO has a record of more than 100 successful space missions? Let us read about the timeline of ISRO’s space programme.

What is ISRO?

  • ISRO is the space agency under the Department of Space of Government of India, headquartered in the city of Bengaluru, Karnataka.
  • Its vision is to harness space technology for national development, while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration.
  • Antrix Corporation Limited (ACL) is a Marketing arm of ISRO for promotion and commercial exploitation of space products, technical consultancy services and transfer of technologies developed by ISRO.
  • Shri S. Somanath is the incumbent chairman of ISRO.

ISRO Formation

  • The Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was established by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1962 under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
  • Eminent scientist Dr Vikram Sarabhai had a big role in this development. He understood the need for space research and was convinced of the role it can play in helping a nation develop.
  • INCOSPAR set up the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) at Thumba, near Thiruvananthapuram at India’s southern tip. TERLS is a spaceport used to launch rockets.
  • The INCOSPAR became ISRO in 1969.
  • The Department of Space was created in 1972 and ISRO became a part of it and remains so till date. The Space Department reports directly to the Prime Minister of the country.
  • During 1975-76, Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) was conducted. It was hailed as ‘the largest sociological experiment in the world’. It was followed by the ‘Kheda Communications Project (KCP)’, which worked as a field laboratory for need-based and locale-specific program transmission in the state of Gujarat State.
  • During this phase, the first Indian spacecraft ‘Aryabhata’ was developed and was launched using a Soviet Launcher.
  • Another major landmark was the development of the first launch vehicle SLV-3 with a capability to place 40 kg in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which had its first successful flight in 1980.
  • ’80s was the experimental phase wherein, Bhaskara-I & II missions were pioneering steps in the remote sensing area whereas ‘Ariane Passenger Payload Experiment (APPLE)’ became the forerunner for the future communication satellite systems.
  • Antrix Corporation Limited (ACL) is a Marketing arm of ISRO for promotion and commercial exploitation of space products, technical consultancy services and transfer of technologies developed by ISRO.

ISRO has many facilities each dedicated to a specialized field of study in space. A few of them are as follows:

  • Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram – The space research activities were initiated in India under Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, the founding father of the Indian space program, during 1960s.
  • Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Thiruvananthapuram
  • Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR), Sriharikota
  • Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad
  • National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad

What are the Achievements of ISRO?

Communication Satellites
  • Established in 1983 with commissioning of INSAT-1B, the Indian National Satellite (INSAT) system is one of the largest domestic communication satellite systems in Asia-Pacific region with nine operational communication satellites placed in Geostationary orbit.
  • It initiated a major revolution in India’s communications sector and sustained the same later. The INSAT system provides services to telecommunications, television broadcasting, satellite newsgathering, societal applications, weather forecasting, disaster warning and Search and Rescue operations.
List of important Communication Satellites
SatelliteLaunch DateLaunch VehicleApplication
GSAT-31Feb 06, 2019Ariane-5 VA-247Communication
GSAT-7ADec 19, 2018GSLV-F11 / GSAT-7A MissionCommunication
GSAT-11 MissionDec 05, 2018Ariane-5 VA-246Communication
GSAT-29Nov 14, 2018GSLV Mk III-D2 / GSAT-29 MissionCommunication
GSAT-6AMar 29, 2018GSLV-F08/GSAT-6A MissionCommunication
GSAT-17Jun 29, 2017Ariane-5 VA-238Communication
GSAT-19Jun 05, 2017GSLV Mk III-D1/GSAT-19 MissionCommunication
GSAT-9May 05, 2017GSLV-F09 / GSAT-9Communication
GSAT-12Jul 15, 2011PSLV-C17/GSAT-12Communication
GSAT-8May 21, 2011Ariane-5 VA-202Communication, Navigation
EDUSATSep 20, 2004GSLV-F01 / EDUSAT(GSAT-3)Communication
Earth Observation Satellites
  • Starting with IRS-1A in 1988, ISRO has launched many operational remote sensing satellites. Today, India has one of the largest constellations of remote sensing satellites in operation.
  • Varieties of instruments have been flown onboard these satellites to provide necessary data in a diversified spatial, spectral and temporal resolutions to cater to different user requirements in the country and for global usage.
  • The data from these satellites are used for several applications covering agriculture, water resources, urban planning, rural development, mineral prospecting, environment, forestry, ocean resources and disaster management.
List of important Earth Observation Satellites
SatelliteLaunch DateLaunch VehicleApplication
HysISNov 29, 2018PSLV-C43 / HysIS MissionEarth Observation
Cartosat-2 Series SatelliteJan 12, 2018PSLV-C40/Cartosat-2 Series Satellite MissionEarth Observation
Cartosat-2 Series SatelliteJun 23, 2017PSLV-C38 / Cartosat-2 Series SatelliteEarth Observation
Cartosat-2 Series SatelliteFeb 15, 2017PSLV-C37 / Cartosat -2 Series SatelliteEarth Observation
RESOURCESAT-2ADec 07, 2016PSLV-C36 / RESOURCESAT-2AEarth Observation
SCATSAT-1Sep 26, 2016PSLV-C35 / SCATSAT-1Climate & Environment
INSAT-3DRSep 08, 2016GSLV-F05 / INSAT-3DRClimate & Environment, Disaster Management System
CARTOSAT-2 Series SatelliteJun 22, 2016PSLV-C34 / CARTOSAT-2 Series SatelliteEarth Observation
SARALFeb 25, 2013PSLV-C20/SARALClimate & Environment, Earth Observation
RISAT-1Apr 26, 2012PSLV-C19/RISAT-1Earth Observation
Megha-TropiquesOct 12, 2011PSLV-C18/Megha-TropiquesClimate & Environment, Earth Observation
RESOURCESAT-2Apr 20, 2011PSLV-C16/RESOURCESAT-2Earth Observation
CARTOSAT-2BJul 12, 2010PSLV-C15/CARTOSAT-2BEarth Observation
Oceansat-2Sep 23, 2009PSLV-C14 / OCEANSAT-2Climate & Environment, Earth Observation
RISAT-2Apr 20, 2009PSLV-C12 / RISAT-2Earth Observation
CARTOSAT-1May 05, 2005PSLV-C6/CARTOSAT-1/HAMSATEarth Observation
The Technology Experiment Satellite (TES)Oct 22, 2001PSLV-C3 / TESEarth Observation
Oceansat (IRS-P4)May 26, 1999PSLV-C2/IRS-P4Earth Observation
Rohini Satellite RS-D1May 31, 1981SLV-3D1Earth Observation
Bhaskara-IJun 07, 1979C-1 IntercosmosEarth Observation, Experimental
Navigation Satellites
  • Satellite is an emerging satellite based system with commercial and strategic applications. Navigation services are necessary to meet the emerging demands of the Civil Aviation requirements and to meet the user requirements of the positioning, navigation and timing based on the independent satellite navigation system.
  • To meet the Civil Aviation requirements, ISRO is working jointly with Airport Authority of India (AAI) in establishing the GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) system.
  • To meet the user requirements of the positioning, navigation and timing services based on the indigenous system, ISRO is establishing a regional satellite navigation system called Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).


ISRO’s vision is stated as “Harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration.”

ISRO Mission

  • Design and development of launch vehicles and related technologies for providing access to space.
  • Design and development of satellites and related technologies for earth observation, communication, navigation, meteorology and space science.
  • Indian National Satellite (INSAT) programme for meeting telecommunication, television broadcasting and developmental applications.
  • Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS) programme for management of natural resources and monitoring of environment using space-based imagery.
  • Space-based Applications for Societal development.
  • Research and Development in space science and planetary exploration.

What are the Challenges and Opportunities in Front of India’s Space Program?

  • India is still is a developing country with vast developmental and security concerns. In this context it is very difficult to justify the allocations for space missions that do not have a direct bearing on development.
  • Successful launched of MOM and a planned rover onto the moon surely boosted the Indian space program. But India’s reliance on satellites has created military vulnerabilities.
  • An anti-satellite missile (ASAT) tested by China in 2007 has also elevated the threat of a slow-moving arms race in space.
  • DRDO is working on development of missile defense but it is increasingly looking to partner with the United States and other countries.
  • China has launched satellites for Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2011 and 2012 respectively. This space cooperation may become another path for China to make inroads in South Asian countries.
  • During the starting of this decade India was highly critical of the EU effort to develop a code of conduct for outer space but in last years it has been actively engaged with the United States and the EU in particular in discussing a code of conduct and other safeguarding mechanisms.
  • India holds the view that reliance on the integration of outer space and cyber capabilities will only increase in future conflicts. But now beyond the maritime domain, India has been relying on foreign partners for many other satellite-based communications and data services. For instance, it continues to rely on NASA for deep space communications.
  • Privatization may also allow India to increase its launch capacity, which is currently at four to five per year while China does on average twenty or so launches. India does not have an explicit space policy to guide private sector participation.
  • ISRO also has internal constraints on its capacity to deliver.
  • The announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump in June 2018 about the creation of a “space force” or a sixth branch of the American armed forces has worried many including India. While India is officially committed to PAROS, or the prevention of an arms race in outer space, it is yet to formulate a credible official response to such plans. India has yet to establish a credible space command of its own.
  • In this context China’s reaction could be much stronger than its seemingly muted official response and it does possess a formidable space military programme that far exceeds current Indian capabilities.
  • Globally entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Richard Branson began talking of space activities as independent profitable commercial ventures that can be termed as New Space revolution.

MCQs about Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

Question 1: Who is the incumbent chairman of ISRO?

a) Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

b) Shri S. Somanath

c) Jawaharlal Nehru

d) Elon Musk

Question 2: What was the first Indian spacecraft developed by ISRO?

a) Aryabhata


c) GSAT-31

d) Bhaskara-I

Question 3: What is the name of the regional satellite navigation system established by ISRO?

a) Global Positioning System (GPS)

b) Indian Space Navigation System (ISNS)

c) Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)

d) Navigation and Positioning Network (NPN)

Question 4: What is the main vision of ISRO?

a) Establish a military space force

b) Develop a global space communications network

c) Explore outer planets of the solar system

d) Harness space technology for national development and space science research

Question 5: Which country’s anti-satellite missile test in 2007 elevated concerns about an arms race in space?

a) India

b) United States

c) Russia

d) China

Read also:- ISRO to launch Singapore’s earth observation satellite

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