Indian Space Research Organisation

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Indian Space Research Organisation
भारतीय अंतरिक्ष अनुसंधान संगठन
Bhāratīya Antarikṣa Anusaṃdhān Sangathan
[[File:Indian Space Research Organisation Logo.svg|]]
ISRO logo
Acronym ISRO
Owner Government of India
Established 15 August 1969 (1969-08-15)
(1962 as INCOSPAR)
Headquarters Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Primary spaceport Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh
Motto मानव जाति की सेवा में अंतरिक्ष प्रौद्योगिकी (Hindi)
IAST: Mānav Jāti Kī Sevā Men Antarikṣa Praudyogikī
(Space technology in the Service of humankind.)
Administrator A. S. Kiran Kumar
Budget Increase 90.94 billion (US$1.4 billion)(2017–18 est.)[1][2]

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO, /ˈɪsr/) is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bengaluru. Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development", while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration.[3]

Formed in 1969, ISRO superseded the erstwhile Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) established in 1962 by the efforts of independent India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and his close aide and scientist Vikram Sarabhai. The establishment of ISRO thus institutionalised space activities in India.[4] It is managed by the Department of Space, which reports to the Prime Minister of The Republic of India.

ISRO built India's first satellite, Aryabhata, which was launched by the Soviet Union on 19 April 1975. 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 successfully used an indigenous cryogenic engine in a GSLV-D5 launch of the GSAT-14.[5][6]

ISRO sent one lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan-1, on 22 October 2008 and one Mars orbiter, Mars Orbiter Mission, which successfully entered Mars orbit on 24 September 2014, making India the first nation to succeed on its first attempt, and ISRO the fourth space agency in the world as well as the first space agency in Asia to successfully reach Mars orbit.[7] Future plans include the development of GSLV Mk III (for the launch of heavier satellites), ULV, development of a reusable launch vehicle, human spaceflight, further lunar exploration, interplanetary probes, a solar spacecraft mission, etc.[8] On 18 June 2016 ISRO successfully set a record with a launch of 20 satellites in a single payload, one being a satellite from Google.[9] On 15 February 2017, ISRO launched 104 satellites in a single rocket (PSLV-C37) and created a world record.[10][11]


Formative years

[[File:Vikram Sarabhai.jpg|thumb|Vikram Sarabhai, first chairman of INCOSPAR, which would later be called ISRO]] Modern space research in India is most visibly traced to the 1920s, when the scientist S. K. Mitra conducted a series of experiments leading to the sounding of the ionosphere by application of ground based radio methods in Calcutta.[12] Later, Indian scientists like C.V. Raman and Meghnad Saha contributed to scientific principles applicable in space sciences.[12] However, it was the period after 1945 which saw important developments being made in coordinated space research in India.[12] 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.[12] Initial experiments in space sciences included the study of cosmic radiation, high altitude and airborne testing of instruments, deep underground experimentation at the Kolar mines—one of the deepest mining sites in the world – and studies of the upper atmosphere.[13] Studies were carried out at research laboratories, universities, and independent locations.[13][14]

In 1950, the Department of Atomic Energy was founded with Homi Bhabha as its secretary.[14] The Department provided funding for space research throughout India.[15] During this time, tests continued on aspects of meteorology and the Earth's magnetic field, a topic which 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.[14] The Rangpur Observatory was set up in 1957 at Osmania University, Hyderabad. Space research was further encouraged by the technically inclined Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.[15] In 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik and opened up possibilities for the rest of the world to conduct a space launch.[15]

The Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was set up in 1962 by Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister.[16]

Goals and objectives

The prime objective of ISRO is to develop space technology and its application to various national tasks.[3] The Indian space programme was driven by the vision of Vikram Sarabhai, considered the father of the Indian Space Programme.[17] As he said in 1969:

The former Indian President Sri A. P. J. Abdul Kalam said:

India's economic progress has made its space programme more visible and active as the country aims for greater self-reliance in space technology.[19] In 2008 India launched as many as 11 satellites, including nine from other countries and went on to become the first nation to launch 10 satellites on one rocket."[19] ISRO has successfully put into operation two major satellite systems: Indian National Satellites (INSAT) for communication services and Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites for management of natural resources.

In July 2012, the former President, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam said that research was being done by ISRO and DRDO for developing cost reduction technologies for access to space.[20]

Organisation structure and facilities

The 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 Prime Minister and the Space Commission, and manages the following agencies and institutes:[21]

Research facilities

Facility Location Description
Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Thiruvananthapuram The largest ISRO base is also the main technical centre and the venue of development of the SLV-3, ASLV, and PSLV series.[23] The base supports India's Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station and the Rohini Sounding Rocket programme.[23] This facility is also developing the GSLV series.[23]
Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre Thiruvananthapuram and Bangalore The LPSC handles design, development, testing and implementation of liquid propulsion control packages, liquid stages and liquid engines for launch vehicles and satellites.[23] The testing of these systems is largely conducted at IPRC at Mahendragiri.[23] The LPSC, Bangalore also produces precision transducers.[24]
Physical Research Laboratory Ahmedabad Solar planetary physics, infrared astronomy, geo-cosmo physics, plasma physics, astrophysics, archaeology, and hydrology are some of the branches of study at this institute.[23] An observatory at Udaipur also falls under the control of this institution.[23]
Semi-Conductor Laboratory Chandigarh Research & Development in the field of semiconductor technology, micro-electromechanical systems and process technologies relating to semiconductor processing.
National Atmospheric Research Laboratory Tirupati The NARL carries out fundamental and applied research in Atmospheric and Space Sciences.
Space Applications Centre Ahmedabad The SAC deals with the various aspects of practical use of space technology.[23] Among the fields of research at the SAC are geodesy, satellite based telecommunications, surveying, remote sensing, meteorology, environment monitoring etc.[23] The SAC additionally operates the Delhi Earth Station which is located in Delhi and is used for demonstration of various SATCOM experiments in addition to normal SATCOM operations.[25]
North-Eastern Space Applications Centre Shillong Providing developmental support to North East by undertaking specific application projects using remote sensing, GIS, satellite communication and conducting space science research.

Test facilities

Facility Location Description
ISRO Propulsion Complex Mahendragiri Formerly called LPSC-Mahendragiri, was declared a separate centre. It handles testing and assembly of liquid propulsion control packages, liquid engines and stages for launch vehicles and satellites.[23]

Construction and launch facilities

Facility Location Description
ISRO Satellite Centre Bangalore The venue of eight successful spacecraft projects is also one of the main satellite technology bases of ISRO. The facility serves as a venue for implementing indigenous spacecraft in India.[23] The satellites Ayrabhata, Bhaskara, APPLE, and IRS-1A were constructed at this site, and the IRS and INSAT satellite series are presently under development here.[24]
Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems Bangalore The Unit of ISRO responsible for the development of altitude sensors for all satellites. The high precision optics for all cameras and payloads in all ISRO satellites including Chandrayaan-1 are developed at this laboratory. Located at Peenya Industrial Estate, Bangalore.
Satish Dhawan Space Centre Sriharikota With multiple sub-sites the Sriharikota island facility acts as a launching site for India's satellites.[23] The Sriharikota facility is also the main launch base for India's sounding rockets.[24] The centre is also home to India's largest Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant (SPROB) and houses the Static Test and Evaluation Complex (STEX).[24] The Second Vehicle Assembly Building (SVAB) at Sriharikota is being realised as an additional integration facility, with suitable interfacing to a second launch pad.[26][27]
Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station Thiruvananthapuram TERLS is used to launch sounding rockets.

Tracking and control facilities

Facility Location Description
Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) Bangalore This network receives, processes, archives and distributes the spacecraft health data and payload data in real time. It can track and monitor satellites up to very large distances, even beyond the Moon.
National Remote Sensing Centre Hyderabad The NRSC applies remote sensing to manage natural resources and study aerial surveying.[23] With centres at Balanagar and Shadnagar it also has training facilities at Dehradun in form of the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing.[23]
ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network Bangalore (headquarters) and a number of ground stations throughout India and World.[25] Software development, ground operations, Tracking Telemetry and Command (TTC), and support is provided by this institution.[23] ISTRAC has Tracking stations throughout the country and all over the world in Port Louis (Mauritius), Bearslake (Russia), Biak (Indonesia) and Brunei.
Master Control Facility Bhopal; Hassan Geostationary satellite orbit raising, payload testing, and in-orbit operations are performed at this facility.[28] The MCF has earth stations and Satellite Control Centre (SCC) for controlling satellites.[28] A second MCF-like facility named 'MCF-B' is being constructed at Bhopal.[28]

Human resource development

Facility Location Description
Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) Dehradun Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS), a unit of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Department of Space, Govt. of India is a premier training and educational institute set up for developing trained professionals (P.G and PhD level) in the field of Remote Sensing, Geoinformatics and GPS Technology for Natural Resources, Environmental and Disaster Management. IIRS is also executing many R&D projects on Remote Sensing and GIS for societal applications. IIRS also runs various Outreach programmes (Live & Interactive and e-learning) to build trained skilled human resources in the field of Remote Sensing and Geospatial technologies. The e-learning portal of IIRS is hosted at
Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) Thiruvananthapuram The institute offers undergraduate and graduate courses in Aerospace engineering, Avionics and Physical Sciences. The students of the first three batches of IIST have been inducted into different ISRO centres as of September 2012.
Development and Educational Communication Unit Ahmedabad The centre works for education, research, and training, mainly in conjunction with the INSAT programme.[23] The main activities carried out at DECU include GRAMSAT and EDUSAT projects.[24] The Training and Development Communication Channel (TDCC) also falls under the operational control of the DECU.[25]

Commercial wing (Antrix Corporation)

Set up as the marketing arm, its job is to promote products, services and technology developed by ISRO.[29][30]

Other facilities

Launch vehicle fleet

Comparison of Indian carrier rockets. Left to right: SLV, ASLV, PSLV, GSLV, GSLV Mk.III

During the 1960s and 1970s, India initiated its own launch vehicle programme owing to geopolitical and economic considerations. In the 1960s–1970s, the country successfully developed a sounding rockets programme, and by the 1980s, research had yielded the Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 and the more advanced Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), complete with operational supporting infrastructure.[31] ISRO further applied its energies to the advancement of launch vehicle technology resulting in the creation of PSLV and GSLV technologies.

Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV)

Status: Decommissioned

The Satellite Launch Vehicle, usually known by its abbreviation SLV or SLV-3 was a 4-stage solid-propellant light launcher. It was intended to reach a height of 500 km and carry a payload of 40 kg.[32] Its first launch took place in 1979 with 2 more in each subsequent year, and the final launch in 1983. Only two of its four test flights were successful.[33]

Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV)

Status: Decommissioned

The Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle, usually known by its abbreviation ASLV was a 5-stage solid propellant rocket with the capability of placing a 150 kg satellite into Low Earth Orbit. This project was started by the ISRO during the early 1980s to develop technologies needed for a payload to be placed into a geostationary orbit. Its design was based on Satellite Launch Vehicle.[34] The first launch test was held in 1987, and after that 3 others followed in 1988, 1992 and 1994, out of which only 2 were successful, before it was decommissioned.[33]

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)

Status: Active

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, commonly known by its abbreviation PSLV, is an expendable launch system developed by ISRO to allow India to launch its Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites into Sun synchronous orbits. PSLV can also launch small satellites into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The reliability and versatility of the PSLV is proven by the fact that it has launched, as of 2014, 71 satellites/spacecraft (31 Indian and 40 foreign) into a variety of orbits.[35][36] The maximum number of satellites launched by the PSLV in a single launch is 104, in the PSLV-C37 launch on 15 February 2017.[37][38][39]

Decade wise summary of PSLV launches:

Decade Successful Partial success Failures Total
1990s 3 1 1 5
2000s 11 0 0 11
2010s 22 0 0 22

Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)

Status: Active

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, usually known by its abbreviation GSLV, is an expendable launch system developed to enable India to launch its INSAT-type satellites into geostationary orbit and to make India less dependent on foreign rockets. At present, it is ISRO's second-heaviest satellite launch vehicle and is capable of putting a total payload of up to 5 tons to Low Earth Orbit. The vehicle is built by India with the cryogenic engine purchased from Russia while the ISRO develops its own engine programme.

In a setback for ISRO, the attempt to launch the GSLV, GSLV-F06 carrying GSAT-5P, failed on 25 December 2010. The initial evaluation implies that loss of control for the strap-on boosters caused the rocket to veer from its intended flight path, forcing a programmed detonation. Sixty-four seconds into the first stage of flight, the rocket began to break up due to the acute angle of attack. The body housing the 3rd stage, the cryogenic stage, incurred structural damage, forcing the range safety team to initiate a programmed detonation of the rocket.[40]

On 5 January 2014, GSLV-D5 successfully launched GSAT-14 into intended orbit. This also marked first successful flight using indigenous cryogenic engine, making India the sixth country in the world to have this technology.[5][6]

Again on 27 August 2015, GSLV-D6 launched GSAT-6 into the transfer orbit. ISRO used the indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) third time on board in this GSLV flight.[41]

On 8 September 2016, GSLV-F05 successfully launched INSAT-3DR, an advanced weather satellite, weighing 2211 kg into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). GSLV is designed to inject 2 – 2.5 Tonne class of satellites into GTO. The launch took place from the Second Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota. GSLV-F05 flight is significant since it is the first operational flight of GSLV carrying Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS). The indigenously developed CUS was carried on board for the fourth time during a GSLV flight in the GSLV-F05 flight. GSLV-F05 vehicle is configured with all its three stages including the CUS similar to the ones successfully flown during the previous GSLV-D5 and D6 missions in January 2014 and August 2015.[42]

Decade wise summary of GSLV Launches:

Decade Successful Partial success Failures Total
2000s 2 2 1 5
2010s 3 0 2 5

Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III (GSLV III)

Status: Currently under development

GSLV-Mk III is a launcher which is currently under development. It is expected to launch four tonne satellites into geosynchronous transfer orbit. GSLV-Mk III is conceived as a three-stage vehicle with a 110 tonne core liquid propellant stage (L-110) flanked by two 200 tonne solid propellant strap-on booster motors (S-200). The upper stage will be cryogenic with a propellant loading of 25 tonne (C-25). The vehicle will have a lift-off mass of about 640 tonnes and be 43.43 metres tall. According to ISRO, the payload fairing has a diameter of 5 metres and a payload volume of 100 cubic metres.[43] It will allow India to become less dependent on foreign rockets for heavy lifting.[44]

On 18 December 2014, ISRO successfully conducted an experimental test-flight of GSLV MK III carrying a crew module, to be used in future human space missions.[45] This suborbital test flight demonstrated the performance of GSLV Mk III in the atmosphere.[46]

Satellite programmes

India's first satellite, the Aryabhata, was launched by the Soviet Union on 19 April 1975 from Kapustin Yar using a Cosmos-3M launch vehicle. This was followed by the Rohini series of experimental satellites which were built and launched indigenously. At present, ISRO operates a large number of earth observation satellites.

The INSAT series

INSAT (Indian National Satellite System) is a series of multipurpose geostationary satellites launched by ISRO to satisfy the telecommunications, broadcasting, meteorology and search-and-rescue needs of India. Commissioned in 1983, INSAT is the largest domestic communication system in the Asia-Pacific Region. It is a joint venture of the Department of Space, Department of Telecommunications, India Meteorological Department, All India Radio and Doordarshan. The overall co-ordination and management of INSAT system rests with the Secretary-level INSAT Coordination Committee.

The IRS series

Indian Remote Sensing satellites (IRS) are a series of earth observation satellites, built, launched and maintained by ISRO. The IRS series provides remote sensing services to the country. The Indian Remote Sensing Satellite system is the largest constellation of remote sensing satellites for civilian use in operation today in the world. All the satellites are placed in polar Sun-synchronous orbit and provide data in a variety of spatial, spectral and temporal resolutions to enable several programmes to be undertaken relevant to national development. The initial versions are composed of the 1 (A, B, C, D) nomenclature. The later versions are named based on their area of application including OceanSat, CartoSat, ResourceSat.

Radar Imaging Satellites

ISRO currently operates two Radar Imaging Satellites. RISAT-1 was launched from Sriharikota Spaceport on 26 April 2012 on board a PSLV. RISAT-1 carries a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload, operating in a multi-polarisation and multi-resolution mode and can provide images with coarse, fine and high spatial resolutions.[47] India also operates RISAT-2 which was launched in 2009 and acquired from Israel at a cost $110 million.[47]

Other satellites

ISRO has also launched a set of experimental geostationary satellites known as the GSAT series. Kalpana-1, ISRO's first dedicated meteorological satellite,[48] was launched by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on 12 September 2002.[49] The satellite was originally known as MetSat-1.[50] In February 2003 it was renamed to Kalpana-1 by the Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in memory of Kalpana Chawla – a NASA astronaut of Indian origin who perished in Space Shuttle Columbia.

ISRO has also successfully launched the Indo-French satellite SARAL on 25 February 2013, 12:31 UTC. SARAL (or "Satellite with ARgos and ALtiKa") is a cooperative altimetry technology mission. It is being used for monitoring the oceans surface and sea-levels. AltiKa will measure ocean surface topography with an accuracy of 8 mm, against 2.5 cm on average using current-generation altimeters, and with a spatial resolution of 2 km.[51][52]

In June 2014, ISRO launched French Earth Observation Satellite SPOT-7 (mass 714 kg) along with Singapore's first nano satellite VELOX-I, Canada's satellite CAN-X5, Germany's satellite AISAT, via the PSLV-C23 launch vehicle. It was ISRO's 4th commercial launch.[53][54]

South Asian Satallite(SAARC Satallite)

The South Asia Satellite is a proposed geosynchronous communications and meteorology satellite by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAS) region. During the 18th SAARC summit held in Nepal in 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi mooted the idea of a satellite serving the needs of SAARC member nations, part of his Neighbourhood first policy.

One month after sworn in as Prime Minister of India, in June 2014 Modi asked ISRO to develop a SAARC satellite, which can be dedicated as a ‘gift’ to the neighbours.

It is a satellite for the SAARC region with 12 Ku-band transponders (36 Mhz each) and launch using the Indian Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk-II. The total cost of launching the satellite is estimated to be about ₹2,350,000,000 (₹235 crore). The cost associated with the launch will be met by the Government of India. The proposed satellite enables full range of applications and services in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications viz television (TV), direct-to-home (DTH), very small aperture terminals (VSATs), tele-education, tele-medicine and disaster management support.

GAGAN satellite navigation system

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has decided to implement an indigenous Satellite-Based Regional GPS Augmentation System also known as Space-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) as part of the Satellite-Based Communications, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS)/Air Traffic Management (ATM) plan for civil aviation. The Indian SBAS system has been given an acronym GAGAN – GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation. A national plan for satellite navigation including implementation of Technology Demonstration System (TDS) over the Indian air space as a proof of concept has been prepared jointly by Airports Authority of India (AAI) and ISRO. TDS was successfully completed during 2007 by installing eight Indian Reference Stations (INRESs) at eight Indian airports and linked to the Master Control Centre (MCC) located near Bangalore.

The first GAGAN navigation payload has been fabricated and it was proposed to be flown on GSAT-4 during Apr 2010. However, GSAT-4 was not placed in orbit as GSLV-D3 could not complete the mission. Two more GAGAN payloads will be subsequently flown, one each on two geostationary satellites, GSAT-8 and GSAT-10. On 12 May 2012, ISRO announced the successful testing of its indigenous cryogenic engine for 200 seconds for its forthcoming GSLV-D5 flight.[55]

IRNSS satellite navigation system

IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system being developed by India. It is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1500 km from its boundary, which is its primary service area. IRNSS will provide two types of services, namely, Standard Positioning Service (SPS) and Restricted Service (RS) and is expected to provide a position accuracy of better than 20 m in the primary service area.[56] It is an autonomous regional satellite navigation system being developed by Indian Space Research Organisation which would be under total control of Indian government. The requirement of such a navigation system is driven by the fact that access to Global Navigation Satellite Systems like GPS is not guaranteed in hostile situations. ISRO initially planned to launch the constellation of satellites between 2012 and 2014 but the project got delayed by nearly 2 years.

ISRO on 1 July 2013, at 23:41 IST launched from Sriharikota the First Indian Navigation Satellite the IRNSS-1A. The IRNSS-1A was launched aboard PSLV-C22. The constellation would be comprising 7 satellites of I-1K bus each weighing around 1450 Kilogrammes, with three satellites in the Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) and 4 in Geosynchronous earth orbit(GSO). The constellation would be completed around April 2016.[57]

On 4 April 2014, at 17:14 IST ISRO has launched IRNSS-1B from Sriharikota, its second of seven IRNSS series. 19 minutes after launch PSLV-C24 was successfully injected into its orbit.IRNSS-1C was launched on 16 October 2014, and IRNSS-1D on 28 March 2015.[58]

On 20 January 2016, 9:31 hrs IST IRNSS-1E was launched successfully aboard PSLV-C31 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. On 10 March 2016, 4:31 hrs IST IRNSS-1F was launched successfully aboard PSLV-C32 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. On 28 April 2016, 12:50 hrs IST IRNSS-1G was launched successfully aboard PSLV-XL-C33 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. This Satellite is the seven and the last in the IRNSS system and completes India's own navigation system

As of January 2016, ISRO was in the process of developing 4 back-up satellites to the constellation of existing IRNSS satellites.[59]

Human spaceflight programme

The Indian Space Research Organisation has proposed a budget of 124 billion (US$1.8 billion) for its human spaceflight programme.[60] According to the Space Commission which recommended the budget, an unmanned flight will be launched after 7 years of final approval[61] and a manned mission will be launched after 7 years of funding.[62][63] If realised in the stated time-frame, India will become the fourth nation, after the USSR, USA and China, to successfully carry out manned missions indigenously. The government of India has not yet approved the mission as of October 2016.

Technology demonstration

The Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SCRE or more commonly SRE or SRE-1)[64] is an experimental Indian spacecraft which was launched using the PSLV C7 rocket, along with three other satellites. It remained in orbit for 12 days before re-entering the Earth's atmosphere and splashing down into the Bay of Bengal.[65] The SRE-1 was designed to demonstrate the capability to recover an orbiting space capsule, and the technology for performing experiments in the microgravity conditions of an orbiting platform. It was also intended to test thermal protection, navigation, guidance, control, deceleration and flotation systems, as well as study hypersonic aero-thermodynamics, management of communication blackouts, and recovery operations. ISRO also plans to launch SRE-2 and SRE-3 in the near future to test advanced re-entry technology for future manned missions.[66]

Astronaut training and other facilities

ISRO will set up an astronaut training centre in Bangalore to prepare personnel for flights on board the crewed vehicle. The centre will use simulation facilities to train the selected astronauts in rescue and recovery operations and survival in zero gravity, and will undertake studies of the radiation environment of space. ISRO will build centrifuges to prepare astronauts for the acceleration phase of the mission. It also plans to build a new Launch pad to meet the target of launching a manned space mission in 7 years of funding clearance. This would be the third launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.

Development of crew vehicle

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is working towards a maiden manned Indian space mission vehicle that can carry three astronauts for seven days in a near earth orbit. The Indian manned spacecraft temporarily named as Orbital Vehicle intends to be the basis of indigenous Indian human spaceflight programme. The capsule will be designed to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be equipped with a rendezvous and docking capability. In its maiden manned mission, ISRO's largely autonomous 3-ton capsule will orbit the Earth at 400 km in altitude for up to seven days with a two-person crew on board. The crew vehicle would launch atop of ISRO's GSLV Mk II, currently under development. The GSLV Mk II features an indigenously developed cryogenic upper-stage engine.[67] The first test of the cryogenic engine, held on 15 April 2010, failed as the cryogenic phase did not perform as expected and rocket deviated from the planned trajectory.[68] However the second test of the indigenous cryogenic engine was successful on 5 January 2014 and on 27 August 2015.[69]

Planetary sciences and astronomy

India's space era dawned when the first two-stage sounding rocket was launched from Thumba in 1963.[70]

There is a national balloon launching facility at Hyderabad jointly supported by TIFR and ISRO. This facility has been extensively used for carrying out research in high energy (i.e., X- and gamma ray) astronomy, IR astronomy, middle atmospheric trace constituents including CFCs & aerosols, ionisation, electric conductivity and electric fields.[71]

The flux of secondary particles and X-ray and gamma-rays of atmospheric origin produced by the interaction of the cosmic rays is very low. This low background, in the presence of which one has to detect the feeble signal from cosmic sources is a major advantage in conducting hard X-ray observations from India. The second advantage is that many bright sources like Cyg X-1, Crab Nebula, Scorpius X-1 and Galactic Centre sources are observable from Hyderabad due to their favourable declination. With these considerations, an X-ray astronomy group was formed at TIFR in 1967 and development of an instrument with an orientable X-ray telescope for hard X-ray observations was undertaken. The first balloon flight with the new instrument was made on 28 April 1968 in which observations of Scorpius X-1 were successfully carried out. In a succession of balloon flights made with this instrument between 1968 and 1974 a number of binary X-ray sources including Scorpius X-1, Cyg X-1, Her X-1 etc. and the diffuse cosmic X-ray background were studied. Many new and astrophysically important results were obtained from these observations.[72]

One of most important achievements of ISRO in this field was the discovery of three species of bacteria in the upper stratosphere at an altitude of between 20–40 km. The bacteria, highly resistant to ultra-violet radiation, are not found elsewhere on Earth, leading to speculation on whether they are extraterrestrial in origin. These three bacteria can be considered to be extremophiles. Until then, the upper stratosphere was believed to be inhospitable because of the high doses of ultra-violet radiation. The bacteria were named as Bacillus isronensis in recognition of ISRO's contribution in the balloon experiments, which led to its discovery, Bacillus aryabhata after India's celebrated ancient astronomer Aryabhata and Janibacter Hoylei after the distinguished astrophysicist Fred Hoyle.[73]


The Astrosat is India first multiwave length space observatory and full-fledged astronomy satellite.Its observation study includes active galactic nuclei,hot white dwarfs,pulsations of pulsars, binary star systems, super massive black holes located at the centre of the galaxies.etc.

Extraterrestrial exploration

First mission to the Moon: Chandrayaan-1

Model of the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft

Chandrayaan-1 was India's first mission to the moon. The unmanned lunar exploration mission included a lunar orbiter and an impactor called the Moon Impact Probe. ISRO launched the spacecraft using a modified version of the PSLV on 22 October 2008 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. The vehicle was successfully inserted into lunar orbit on 8 November 2008. It carried high-resolution remote sensing equipment for visible, near infrared, and soft and hard X-ray frequencies. During its 312 days operational period (2 years planned), it surveyed the lunar surface to produce a complete map of its chemical characteristics and 3-dimensional topography. The polar regions were of special interest, as they possibly had ice deposits. The spacecraft carried 11 instruments: 5 Indian and 6 from foreign institutes and space agencies (including NASA, ESA, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Brown University and other European and North American institutes/companies) which were carried free of cost. Chandrayaan-1 became the first lunar mission to discover existence of water on the Moon.[74] The Chandrayaan-166 team was awarded the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SPACE 2009 award,[75] the International Lunar Exploration Working Group's International Co-operation award in 2008,[76] and the National Space Society's 2009 Space Pioneer Award in the science and engineering category.[77][78]

Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalayaan)

Artist's rendering of the Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft, with Mars in the background

The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), informally known as Mangalayaan, was launched into Earth orbit on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and has entered Mars orbit on 24 September 2014.[79] India is the first country to enter Mars orbit in first attempt. It was completed at a record cost of $74 million.[80]

MOM was successfully placed into Mars orbit on 24 September 2014 at 8:23 am IST.

The spacecraft had a launch mass of 1,337 kg (2,948 lb), with 15 kg (33 lb) of five scientific instruments as payload.

The National Space Society awarded the Mars Orbiter Mission team the 2015 Space Pioneer Award in the science and engineering category.[81][82]

Future projects

A model of the RLV-TD

ISRO plans to launch a number of new-generation Earth Observation Satellites in the near future. It will also undertake the development of new launch vehicles and spacecraft. ISRO has stated that it will send unmanned missions to Mars and Near-Earth Objects. ISRO has planned 58 missions during 2012–17; 33 satellites missions in next two years and 25 launch vehicles missions thereafter, costing 200 billion (US$3 billion).[83]

Forthcoming Launches

Rocket Name Time Details
GSLV Mk II 5 May 2017 South Asia Satellite, to be used by India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Maldives.
PSLV 28 December 2017 This launch is contracted by Team Indus, for Google Lunar X Prize, it will be the first time that multiple rovers are carried to the moon on a single launch, with three rovers being planned.
GSLV Mk III May 2017 This will launch GSAT-19E, a successful launch will make ISRO self reliable for launching satellites of 3200 kg range to geostationary orbits

Forthcoming Satellites

Satellite Name Details
GSAT-9 GSAT-9 will carry 6 C band and 24 Ku band transponders with India coverage beam. The satellite is planned to be launched during 2016–17 with a mission life of 12 years and positioned at 48° East longitude. This I-2K satellite has a liftoff mass of 2330 kg and payload power of 2300 W.
GSAT-11 GSAT-11 is based on I-4K bus which is under advanced stage of development. The spacecraft can generate 10–12 KW of power and can support payload power of 8KW. The payload configuration is on-going. It consists of 16 spot beams covering entire country including Andaman & Nicobar islands. The communication link to the user-end terminals operate in Ku-band while the communication link to the hubs operate in Ka-band. The payload is configured to be operated as a high data throughput satellite, to be realised in orbit in 2017 time frame.
GISAT 1 Geospatial imagery for disasters
SAARC Satellite This satellite was announced by the current Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi at 18th SAARC Summit as gift from India to its neighbours,fostering peaceful relations . The launch was initially planned to take place in march.
NISAR Nasa-Isro Synthetic Aperture Radar (Nisar) is a joint project between NASA and ISRO to co-develop and launch a dual frequency synthetic aperture radar satellite to be used for remote sensing. It is notable for being the first dual band radar imaging satellite.

Future Extraterrestrial exploration

Destination Craft name Launch vehicle Time Details
Moon Chandrayaan-2 GSLV Mk-II 2018
Sun Aditya-1 PSLV-XL 2019
Venus Indian Venusian orbiter mission PSLV-XL 2020
Mars Mangalyaan 2 GSLV III 2018
Jupiter TBD GSLV III 2020

Future launch vehicles

Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD)

As a first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable launch vehicle, a series of technology demonstration missions have been conceived. For this purpose a Winged Reusable Launch Vehicle technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) has been configured. The RLV-TD will act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies viz., hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion. First in the series of demonstration trials is the hypersonic flight experiment (HEX).

A scaled-down, unmanned version of India's futuristic space shuttle was getting the final touches at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thumba as of 20 May 2015.[84] "The 'space plane' part of the RLV-TD is almost ready. We are now in the process of affixing special tiles on its outer surface which is needed for withstanding the intense heat during re-entry into the earth's atmosphere," SSC director M Chandradathan said. ISRO has tentatively slated the prototype's test flight from the first launchpad of Sriharikota spaceport for February 2016, but the date would be finalised depending on the completion of construction. The proposed RLV is designed in two parts; a manned space plane rigged atop a single stage, booster rocket using solid fuel. The rocket is expendable while the RLV would fly back to earth and land like a normal aeroplane after the mission.

The prototype- 'the RLV-TD' weighs around 1.5 tonnes and would fly up to a height of 70 km.[85] The HEX(Hypersonic Flight Experiment) was successfully completed on 01:30 GMT, 23 May 2016.

Unified Launch Vehicle

The ULV or Unified Launch Vehicle is a launch vehicle in development by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The project core objective is to design a modular architecture that will enable the replacement of the PSLV, GSLV Mk I/II and GSLV Mk III with a single family of launchers.

Future Extraterrestrial exploration

ISRO's missions beyond Earth's orbit include Chandrayaan-1 (to the Moon) and Mars Orbiter Mission (to Mars). ISRO plans to follow up with Chandrayaan-2 and missions to Venus and near-Earth objects such as asteroids and comets.


Chandrayaan-2 (Sanskrit: चंद्रयान-२) will be India's mission to the Moon which will include an orbiter and lander-rover module. Chandrayaan-2 will be launched on India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-MkII) in 2018.[86][87] The science goals of the mission are to further improve the understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon.

Mangalyaan 2

The next Mars mission will likely be launched in March 2018, have a less elliptical orbit around the red planet and could weigh seven times more than the first mission.[88] This “Announcement of Opportunity (AO)” is addressed to all institutions in India currently involved in planetary exploration studies/the development of science instruments for space. This orbiter mission will facilitate scientific community to address the open science problems. The Principal Investigator of the proposal should be (i) able to provide necessary details of the instrument which can address the scientific problems and (ii) capable to bring together the instrument team and lead the team for developing a space qualified instrument. The payload capability of the proposed satellite is likely to be 100 kg.

Venus exploration

ISRO is assessing a Venusian orbiter mission by 2018–2019 to study its atmosphere. Jacques Blamont, an astrophysicist, has offered to help the Indian Space Research Organisation with gigantic balloons carrying several instruments but designed to pop in and out of the extremely hot atmosphere of the planet after being unfettered from the orbiter. Some budget has been allocated for Mission to Venus as part of 2017–18 Indian budget under Space Sciences.[89][90][1]

Solar exploration programme

ISRO plans to carry out a mission to the Sun by the year 2019–20. The probe is named as Aditya-1 and will weigh about 400 kg.[91] It is the First Indian space based Solar Coronagraph to study the Corona in visible and near-IR bands. Launch of the Aditya mission was planned during the heightened solar activity period in 2012, but was postponed to 2019–2020 due to the extensive work involved in the fabrication, and other technical aspects. The main objective of the mission is to study Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), their properties (the structure and evolution of their magnetic fields for example), and consequently delineate parameters that affect space weather.

Jupiter Exploration

After Mars, Indian Space Research Organisation is looking at Venus and Jupiter. The country's premier space agency is in the process of conceptual studies that would take up to two years before plans are firmed up to send a spacecraft to the planets To send a spacecraft to Jupiter, the launch window comes every 33 months, . The concept studies include analysing what kind of a spacecraft would be designed and which launch window could be decided upon, so that the scientists can work ahead of the deadlines to keep the spacecraft and the mission plans ready. However, both the missions – to Venus and Jupiter – will not be taken up simultaneously. It will be Venus first and then Jupiter – taking 26 months to travel from Earth to the Jovian orbit. To Venus, it takes just a little over three months. Also for a mission to be sent to Jupiter, which is the largest planet of the solar system, an elaborate payload would have to be readied for the mission.[92]

Helium 3 mining

According to a scientist associated with ISRO, India could be able to meet its entire energy requirements by mining resources from the moon within the next two decades.

Speaking at an event in New Delhi, Sivathanu Pillai, a distinguished professor at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said all of India's energy requirements needs could be met by helium-3 mined from the moon.

"By 2030, this process target will be met," Pillai said while at the three-day ORF-Kalpana Chawla Space Policy Dialogue, organised by Observer Research Foundation.

Pillai, a former chief of BrahMos Aerospace, said mining lunar dust, which is rich in helium-3 is a priority programme for the ISRO. Pillai also said that other countries too are working on similar projects that there is enough helium on the moon to meet the energy needs of the worlds.

The idea of harvesting energy from the moon has fascinated both science fiction and reality. The European Space Agency notes on its website that it is believed "this isotope could provide safer nuclear energy in a fusion reactor, since it is not radioactive and would not produce dangerous waste products."

Space science missions

: The main objective of SRE II is to release a fully recoverable capsule and provide a platform to conduct microgravity experiments on Micro-biology, Agriculture, Powder Metallurgy, etc. SRE-2 is proposed to be launched on board PSLV. On 18 December 2014, ISRO successfully tested an unmanned crew module with re-entry which was splashed down later in the Bay of Bengal as planned. Some budget has also been allocated to Space Docking Experiment Mission as part of 2017–18 Indian budget under Space sciences.[1]



India uses its satellites communication network – one of the largest in the world – for applications such as land management, water resources management, natural disaster forecasting, radio networking, weather forecasting, meteorological imaging and computer communication.[93] Business, administrative services, and schemes such as the National Informatics Centre (NICNET) are direct beneficiaries of applied satellite technology.[94] Dinshaw Mistry, on the subject of practical applications of the Indian space programme, writes:

"The INSAT-2 satellites also provide telephone links to remote areas; data transmission for organisations such as the National Stock Exchange; mobile satellite service communications for private operators, railways, and road transport; and broadcast satellite services, used by India's state-owned television agency as well as commercial television channels. India's EDUSAT (Educational Satellite), launched aboard the GSLV in 2004, was intended for adult literacy and distance learning applications in rural areas. It augmented and would eventually replace such capabilities already provided by INSAT-3B."

Resource management

The IRS satellites have found applications with the Indian Natural Resource Management programme, with regional Remote Sensing Service Centres in five Indian cities, and with Remote Sensing Application Centres in twenty Indian states that use IRS images for economic development applications. These include environmental monitoring, analysing soil erosion and the impact of soil conservation measures, forestry management, determining land cover for wildlife sanctuaries, delineating groundwater potential zones, flood inundation mapping, drought monitoring, estimating crop acreage and deriving agricultural production estimates, fisheries monitoring, mining and geological applications such as surveying metal and mineral deposits, and urban planning.


India's satellites and satellite launch vehicles have had military spin-offs. While India's 93–124-mile (150–250 km) range Prithvi missile is not derived from the Indian space programme, the intermediate range Agni missile is drawn from the Indian space programme's SLV-3. In its early years, when headed by Vikram Sarabhai and Satish Dhawan, ISRO opposed military applications for its dual-use projects such as the SLV-3. Eventually, however, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) based missile programme borrowed human resources and technology from ISRO. Missile scientist A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (elected president of India in 2002), who had headed the SLV-3 project at ISRO, moved to DRDO to direct India's missile programme. About a dozen scientists accompanied Kalam from ISRO to DRDO, where he designed the Agni missile using the SLV-3's solid fuel first stage and a liquid-fuel (Prithvi-missile-derived) second stage. The IRS and INSAT satellites were primarily intended and used for civilian-economic applications, but they also offered military spin-offs. In 1996 New Delhi's Ministry of Defence temporarily blocked the use of IRS-1C by India's environmental and agricultural ministries to monitor ballistic missiles near India's borders. In 1997 the Indian Air Force's "Airpower Doctrine" aspired to use space assets for surveillance and battle management.[95]


Institutions like the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and the Indian Institutes of Technology use satellites for scholarly applications.[96] Between 1975 and 1976, India conducted its largest sociological programme using space technology, reaching 2400 villages through video programming in local languages aimed at educational development via ATS-6 technology developed by NASA.[97] This experiment—named Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE)—conducted large scale video broadcasts resulting in significant improvement in rural education.[97] Education could reach far remote rural places with the help of above programmes.


ISRO has applied its technology to "telemedicine", directly connecting patients in rural areas to medical professionals in urban locations via satellites.[96] Since high-quality healthcare is not universally available in some of the remote areas of India, the patients in remote areas are diagnosed and analysed by doctors in urban centres in real time via video conferencing.[96] The patient is then advised medicine and treatment.[96] The patient is then treated by the staff at one of the 'super-specialty hospitals' under instructions from the doctor.[96] Mobile telemedicine vans are also deployed to visit locations in far-flung areas and provide diagnosis and support to patients.[96]

Biodiversity Information System

ISRO has also helped implement India's Biodiversity Information System, completed in October 2002.[98] Nirupa Sen details the programme: "Based on intensive field sampling and mapping using satellite remote sensing and geospatial modelling tools, maps have been made of vegetation cover on a 1 : 250,000 scale. This has been put together in a web-enabled database which links gene-level information of plant species with spatial information in a BIOSPEC database of the ecological hot spot regions, namely northeastern India, Western Ghats, Western Himalayas and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This has been made possible with collaboration between the Department of Biotechnology and ISRO."[98]


The Indian IRS-P5 (CARTOSAT-1) was equipped with high-resolution panchromatic equipment to enable it for cartographic purposes.[17] IRS-P5 (CARTOSAT-1) was followed by a more advanced model named IRS-P6 developed also for agricultural applications.[17] The CARTOSAT-2 project, equipped with single panchromatic camera which supported scene-specific on-spot images, succeeded the CARTOSAT-1 project.[99]

International co-operation

ISRO has had international co-operation since inception. Some instances are listed below:

Antrix Corporation, the commercial and marketing arm of ISRO, handles both domestic and foreign deals.[103]

Formal co-operative arrangements in the form of memoranda of understanding or framework agreements have been signed with the following countries[104]

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Egypt
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Malaysia
  • Mauritius
  • Mongolia
  • Myanmar
  • Norway
  • Peru
  • South Korea
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Syria
  • Thailand
  • Netherlands
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Venezuela

The following foreign organisations also have signed various framework agreements with ISRO:-

In the 39th Scientific Assembly of Committee on Space Research held in Mysore, the ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan called upon international synergy in space missions in view of their prohibitive cost. He also mentioned that ISRO is gearing up to meet the growing demand of service providers, security agencies, etc. in a cost effective manner.[105]

Satellites launched by ISRO

As of February 2017, ISRO has launched 225 satellites,including 180 foreign ones using indigenously developed launch vehicles like SLV, ASLV, PSLV and GSLV.Though reliable, the PSLV can not launch satellites having mass greater than 1600 kg.[106] ISRO is developing its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle for launching heavier satellites.[107] ISRO also holds the world record for launching the most number of satellites, 104, in a single launch.[11]

ISRO satellites launched by foreign agencies

Communication satellites
Earth observation satellites
Experimental satellites

Several ISRO satellites have been launched by foreign space agencies (of Europe, USSR / Russia, and United States). The details (as of December 2016) are given in the table below.

Launch vehicle family No. of ISRO satellites launched
Communication satellites Earth observation satellites Experimental satellites Other Total
Ariane 19 0 1 0 20
USSR / Russia
Interkosmos 0 2 1 0 3
Vostok 0 2 0 0 2
Molniya 0 1 0 0 1
Delta 2 0 0 0 2
Space Shuttle 1 0 0 0 1
Total 22 5 2 0 29

Those ISRO satellites that had a launch mass of 3000 kg or more, and were launched by foreign agencies, are listed in the table below.

No. Satellite's name Launch vehicle Launch agency Country / region of launch agency Launch date Launch mass Power Orbit type Mission life Other information Reference(s)
1. INSAT-4A Ariane5-V169 Arianespace Europe 22 December 2005 3081 kg with propellants
(1386.55 kg dry mass)
5922 W Geosynchronous 12 years For communication. [108]
2. INSAT-4B Ariane 5 ECA Arianespace Europe 12 March 2007 3025 kg with propellants 5859 W Geosynchronous 12 years Exclusively for communication. [109]
3. GSAT-8 Ariane-5 VA-202 Arianespace Europe 21 May 2011 3093 kg with propellants (1426 kg dry mass) 6242 W Geosynchronous More than 12 years Advanced, high power, communication satellite. [110]
4. GSAT-10 Ariane-5 VA-209 Arianespace Europe 29 September 2010 3400 kg with propellants (1498 kg dry mass) 6474 W Geosynchronous 15 years For communication. [111]
5. GSAT-16 Ariane-5 VA-221 Arianespace Europe 7 December 2014 3181.6 kg with propellants 6000 W Geosynchronous 12 years Advanced communication satellite. Configured to carry 48 communication transponders, the most in any ISRO communication satellite so far. [112]
6. GSAT-15 Ariane-5 VA-227 Arianespace Europe 11 November 2015 3164 kg with propellants 6000 W Geosynchronous 12 years Advanced communication satellite. Configured to carry 24 communication transponders. [113]
7. GSAT-18 Ariane-5 VA-231 Arianespace Europe 6 October 2016 3404 kg 6474 W Geosynchronous 15 years Communication satellites to carry 48 transponders [114]


S-band spectrum scam

In India, electromagnetic spectrum, being a scarce resource for wireless communication, is auctioned by the Government of India to telecom companies for use. As an example of its value, in 2010, 20 MHz of 3G spectrum was auctioned for 677 billion (US$10 billion). This part of the spectrum is allocated for terrestrial communication (cell phones). However, in January 2005, Antrix Corporation (commercial arm of ISRO) signed an agreement with Devas Multimedia (a private company formed by former ISRO employees and venture capitalists from USA) for lease of S band transponders (amounting to 70 MHz of spectrum) on two ISRO satellites (GSAT 6 and GSAT 6A) for a price of 14 billion (US$210 million), to be paid over a period of 12 years. The spectrum used in these satellites (2500 MHz and above) is allocated by the International Telecommunication Union specifically for satellite-based communication in India. Hypothetically, if the spectrum allocation is changed for utilisation for terrestrial transmission and if this 70 MHz of spectrum were sold at the 2010 auction price of the 3G spectrum, its value would have been over 2,000 billion (US$30 billion). This was a hypothetical situation. However, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India considered this hypothetical situation and estimated the difference between the prices as a loss to the Indian Government.[115][116][117]

There were lapses on implementing Government of India procedures. Antrix/ISRO had allocated capacity of the above two satellites to Devas Multimedia on an exclusive basis, while rules said it should always be non-exclusive. The Cabinet was misinformed in November 2005 that several service providers were interested in using satellite capacity, while the Devas deal was already signed. Also, the Space Commission was kept in the dark while taking approval for the second satellite (its cost was diluted so that Cabinet approval was not needed). ISRO committed to spending 7.66 billion (US$110 million) of public money on building, launching, and operating two satellites which were leased out for Devas.[118]

In late 2009, some ISRO insiders exposed information about the Devas-Antrix deal,[117][119] and the ensuing investigations resulted in the deal being annulled. G. Madhavan Nair (ISRO Chairperson when the agreement was signed) was barred from holding any post under the Department of Space. Some former scientists were found guilty of "acts of commission" or "acts of omission". Devas and Deutsche Telekom demanded US$2 billion and US$1 billion, respectively, in damages.[120] Government of India's Department of Revenue and Ministry of Corporate Affairs initiated an inquiry into Devas shareholding.[118]

The Central Bureau of Investigation concluded investigations into the Antrix-Devas scam and registered a case against the accused in the Antrix-Devas deal under Section 120-B, besides Section 420 of IPC and Section 13(2) read with 13(1)(d) of PC Act, 1988 on 18 March 2015 against the then Executive Director of Antrix Corporation, two officials of USA-based company, Bangalore based private multimedia company, and other unknown officials of Antrix Corporation or Department of Space.[121][122]

Devas Multimedia started arbitration proceedings against Antrix in June 2011. In September 2015, the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce ruled in favour of Devas, and directed Antrix to pay US$672 million (Rs 44.35 billion) in damages to Devas.[123] Antrix opposed the Devas plea for tribunal award in the Delhi High Court.[124]

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  • Burleson, D. (2005), "India", Space Programmes Outside the United States: All Exploration and Research Efforts, Country by Country, pp. 136–146, United States of America: McFarland & Company, ISBN 0-7864-1852-4.
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  • "Space Research", Science and Technology in India edited by R.K. Suri and Kalapana Rajaram, pp. 411–448, New Delhi: Spectrum, ISBN 81-7930-294-6.

Further reading

  • ISRO plans human colony on Moon; by Bibhu Ranjan Mishra in Bengaluru; 18 December 2007; Rediff India Abroad (
  • The Economics of India's Space Programme, by U.Sankar, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2007, ISBN 978-0-19-568345-5

External links