Recently NewScientist.com has put out a special feature on the Indian Space Program.
These articles do very well to explain the history, aims, successes and future of the Indian Space Program and the Indian Space Resarch Organization
Though I reccomend those interested check out the full article, here are some notable excerpts from:
India special: Space programme presses ahead
NESTLED amid the eucalyptus, cashew and coconut trees of Sriharikota Island on the eastern coast of India, north of Chennai, is a 76-metre steel
tower. If all goes to plan, some time in late 2007 the tower will be engulfed in flames as India's first mission to the moon blasts off. Sriharikota
will also be the launch site for India's most advanced scientific research satellite, Astrosat. The satellite will measure, among other things, X-ray
radiation emitted by matter sucked into black holes and given off at the birth and collision of stars.
But why is India, a country that still has so many development problems on the ground, aiming for the heavens? To Indian scientists, the question
is not only patronising of their scientific aspirations, it betrays an ignorance of the Indian space programme's greater purpose and successes
against the odds.
India's political leaders say the country cannot afford not to have a space programme. Indira Gandhi, who was India's longest-serving prime
minister, believed it was not only important for science, but also vital to India's development.
Take, for example, India's six remote-sensing satellites - the largest such constellation in the world.
These monitor the country's land and
coastal waters so that scientists can advise rural communities on the location of aquifers and where to find watercourses, suggest to fishermen when
to set sail for the best catch, and warn coastal communities of imminent storms (see "Eyes in the sky"). India's seven communication satellites,
the biggest civilian system in the Asia-Pacific region, now reach some of the remotest corners of the country
, providing television coverage to 90
per cent of the population. The system is also being used to extend remote healthcare services and education to the rural poor.
In the long run this has given India an advantage over other countries with aspirations to reach space. Its space programme is already largely
self-sufficient and aims to soon be completely independent of foreign support
One of the GSLV's rocket boosters is a Russian-made cryogenic engine. International sanctions meant India was only allowed to buy engines, not the
know-how to design and build them. So for future rockets ISRO engineers are developing their own. Ground tests have been completed and the plan is
to launch a completely home-made GSLV-Mark 2 by the end of this year
, Nair says.
ISRO is already planning the next-generation GSLV, the Mark 3
, which will be powerful enough to launch India's biggest satellites. Nair now
has his sights on the commercial market. A launch on GSLV-Mark 3 should cost about half the rate charged by France, the US and Russia, he
India's space programme is already a money-earner. ISRO sells infrared images from its remote-sensing satellites to other countries, including the
US, where they are used for mapping. And the Technology Experiment Satellite, launched in October 2001, is beaming back images of the Earth's surface
with a resolution of 1 metre, though they are not yet available commercially.
Three per cent of ISRO's $3.3 billion 5-year budget is devoted to the planned moon mission. A reconfigured PSLV rocket will lift Chandrayan - "moon
vehicle" in Hindi - to 36,000 kilometres, after which the craft's own engines will take it to the moon.
Chandrayan will create 3D maps of the moon's surface at a resolution of between 5 and 10 metres, something that has never been done before.
will also map the distribution of ilmenite, a mineral that traps helium-3, a possible source of energy for future bases on the moon.
According to Nair, the Madras School of Economics in Chennai has estimated that ISRO's projects have added between two and three times the
organisation's budget to the nation's GDP.
Several countries in Africa and Asia are seeking ISRO's help to emulate the model. "India is
perhaps the only country where societal needs are met by the space programme in a cost-effective manner and the services are reaching the needy,"
[From issue 2487 of New Scientist magazine, 19 February 2005, page 33]
[edit on 14-3-2005 by rajkhalsa2004]