Rich History of Indian Space Research Organisation ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is the primary space agency of India.

History of ISRO

Modern space research in India is most visibly traced to the activities of scientist S. K. Mitra who conducted a series of experiments leading to the sounding of the ionosphere by application of ground based radio methods in 1920’s Calcutta. However, it was the period after 1945 which saw important developments being made in coordinated space research in India. Organised space research in India was spearheaded by two scientists: Vikram Sarabhai founder of the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad and Homi Bhabha, who had played a role in the establishment of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in 1945. In 1962 the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was established by father of India’s nuclear program Homi Bhabha along with Vikram Sarabhai, father of Space Research Program.

ISRO first rocket
Early rockets transported in cycles

Vikram Sarabhai -Father of Indian Space Research
Early rockets transported in cycles

Scientist worked from  St Mary Magadelene's Church
ISRO’s scientists worked from St Mary Magadelene’s Church

ISRO Thumba Office
Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station first launching pad

Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam who went on to become President of Indian was amongst the initial team of rocket engineers working at Thumba

ISRO Thumba Office
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Aravamudan working on one of the payloads in 1964

Key Achievements of ISRO

Like the U.S.S.R. and the United States, India began its space organization in the early 1960s. Much of its work has focused on conducting experiments or launching satellites into space. Unlike the U.S. or the USSR, the ISRO has not conducted any manned missions in space as of yet. However India is planning a manned mission into space making it the fourth nation after China to indigenously conduct manned space missions.

Mangalyaan – Mars orbiter satellite

On 24 September 2014 ISRO achieved another milestone – successfully launching a satellite to Mars. The satellite would orbit Mars and take pictures studying the atmosphere. The total cost of the Indian mission has been put at 4.5bn rupees ($ 74 million), which makes it one of the cheapest interplanetary space missions ever. Nasa’s recent Maven mission cost $671 million.
Only the US, Russia and Europe have previously sent missions to Mars. India has succeeded on its first attempt – an achievement That has never been achieved before!

Vehicle Fleet

India has developed a variety of rockets that are used to conduct space missions. From the earliest to the most modern, those rockets are:

  • Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) – Decommissioned
  • Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV) – Decommissioned
  • Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) – Active
  • Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) – Active

ISRO carrier rockets
Left to right: SLV, ASLV, PSLV, GSLV, GSLV III.

The earlier forms of the rockets help ISRO develop the basics of space flight. They were used in the beginning of the ISRO to launch simple satellites into space. The SLV was launched four times of which only two were successful. Following the SLV the ASLV was a five-stage rocket that launched four times as well also with a 50% success rate. Following the ASLV the PSLV and the GSLV were developed. The PSLV has been the ISRO most successful space vehicle. It was followed by the GSLV, which was intended to be a reusable space vehicle. However the GSLV did not live up to expectations, forcing the ISRO to shift development to the GSLV-III that is still in development.


The ISRO has launched numerous earth satellites into orbit for a variety of purposes. One of those series has been the INSAT series of satellites. These satellites were launched by the Indian Government to help establish a telecommunications network for the country. Both private enterprise as well as government use it in order to facilitate economic development in India.

Additionally the Indian government has also launched the IRS system of satellites, which is the largest satellite system in the world. This is a system of observational satellites, which collect data that can be used both for scientific purposes as well as for economic development. The data that is collect is vast and serves a wide variety of interests. India also operates other satellites as well but these two systems are the most notable.
Other Contributions

ISRO’s Contribution to science

The ISRO has contributed to sciences in other ways besides the launching of satellites. It has conducted a vast amount of research of the ionosphere and has also
studied cosmic rays as well. Indian researches have also developed telescope technology that allows the observation of space both near and far. Through the experiments of the space program, the ISRO has developed ballistic science, human recovery vehicles, and the development orbital vehicles that can support human life. It is an active program that is likely to contribute further to sciences as the program continues.

ISRO has also developed the Jaipur foot, a super light weight prosthetic leg using polyurethane, which is one of the several composite materials developed by the Sarabhai Centre for use as an ingredient to make rocket motors.

ISRO is one of the primary institutions that has churned out innovations periodically and has made India proud in the world of space research.

Proud of our ISRO!