India’s ISRO most successful space agency?

ISRO is the sixth-largest space agency in the world its stand for ‘Indian Space Research Organization’. It was founded on August 15, 1969, and it operates under the department of space which is under the government of India. K. Sivan is the current chairman of ISRO and he took charge in January 2018.

ISRO has headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka state of India. And its primary spaceport is the Satish Dhawan Space Center and that’s situated in Sriharikota, Andhrapradesh state of India. Spaceport site for launching or receiving spacecraft.

ISRO’s vision is to harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. Space exploration and research are quite expensive according to most recent estimates ISRO has a budget of 1.6 Billion dollars to work with and the organization has around 16000 staff members.

The main objective of ISRO is to use space technology and its application for various tasks. The Indian space program was driven by the vision of Dr VIKRAM SARABHAI. And he is considered as the father of Indian space program and he said back in the year 1969,

“There are some who questioned the relevance of space activities in the developing nation to us there is no ambiguity of purpose, we do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in exploration of the moon or the planet or manned spaceflight. 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 advance technologies to the real problems of man and society.”

ISRO most successful space agency- Dr vikram Sarabhai
Dr Vikram Sarabhai

History of ISRO

ISRO’s space research activities began in the early 1960s when Tokyo Olympic Games broadcasted live across in pacific by American satellite called sync comp3 and this broadcast really demonstrated the power of communication satellite. And Dr Vikram Sarabhai who was at the time director of a physical research laboratory. He saw how space technologies could benefit India. So from there, he assembled a team of the brilliant scientist as well as anthropologist, communicators and social science from all different parts of India to lead the Indian Space program. The program was named as INCOSPAR which stands for Indian National Committee for Space Research. And in the year of 1967, the first Experimental Satellite Communication Earth Station (ESCES) was operationalized. After this INCOSPAR eventually grew into ISRO in 1969.

To establish that satellite can contribute to the national development, ISRO’s next step was the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) and this was seen as the largest sociological experiment in the world during the 1070s. The experiment benefited around 2Lakh people covering 2400 different villages of six different states and its transmitted programs using the American technology satellite known as ATS-6.  During this period the first Indian spacecraft The Aryabhata was developed and launched using the soviet launcher. Another major landmark for ISRO was the development of the first launch vehicle the SLV3 with a capability to place 40 kgs in low earth orbit. And which has its first successful flight in the year 1980 and this paved the way for learning about launch vehicle design for more complex missions.

Why ISRO is better than NASA?

ISRO is a traditional national space research agency much like NASA of the United States of America. But ISRO is extremely cost-effective and result-oriented like a start-up. Its launch prices are as competitive as SpaceX. It’s never fair to compare ISRO with other space agencies because it never possessed the ambitions and funding as other space agencies. NASA’s budget for each year is 18 billion dollars, European Space Agency (ESA) 7 billion dollars, Russian Agency (ROSCOSMOS) 3 billion dollars and Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) 3 billion dollars. But ISRO’s budget for each year is only 1.7 billion dollars.

However, ISRO has achieved extraordinary results, three of the most successful launches of ISRO is PSLV C37 in 2017, Mangalyaan in 2013 and Chandrayaan2 in 2019.

PSLV C37 until this day holds the record for launching the most satellites in a single rocket. And the launch of successful Mangalyaan helped ISRO to become the fourth country to orbit mars. And chandrayaan2 helped ISRO to become a nation to land a rover on the moon in the second attempt. None of the aforementioned achievements comes close to what is ISRO spend for mentioned mission around 70 million dollars each. This reflects the core philosophy of ISRO which is to be ambitious and at the same to be cost-effective.

Cost-effectiveness

ISRO has to come up with brilliant engineering solutions to the problems it faces. For an example ISRO’s experimental mission to mars on the first try, ISRO had to perform six orbit raising manoeuvres over three weeks before heading to mars because the vehicle does not have enough power to send satellites directly to mars. So it slowly raises the satellite’s orbit before injecting it successfully to a heliocentric orbit to mars. The engineering and problem solving behind it are truly amazing which makes ISRO cost-effective and better than NASA.

ISRO didn’t have fundings like NASA had, it didn’t have the start of mindset an institution that SpaceX had but none of this stopped ISRO from doing something extraordinary.

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