From the days of having a church as control room, the bishop’s house as office and a bicycle as ferry and naked eyes to track the smoke plume at Thumba in Kerala and converting a toilet into a satellite data receiving centre in Bengaluru, Indian space odyssey have come a long way to ferrying foreign satellites, launching moon and Mars orbiters, and now planning to land on the Moon. Here’s a timeline of the epic journey.
1960s-1990s: The period of trials and turbulations
1962: Indian National Committee for Space Research set up by Department of Atomic Energy and work on establishing Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) started in Kerala.
1963: First sounding rocket launched from TERLS November 21, 1963.
1965: Space Science and Technology Centre established in Thumba, Kerala.
1968: Experimental Satellite Communication Earth Station set up at Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
1969: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) formed under the Department of Atomic Energy (August 15, 1969).
1971: Satish Dhawan Space Centre (formerly SHAR Centre) was formed in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
1972: Department of Space (DOS) established and ISRO brought under DOS. ISRO Satellite Centre established at Bangalore. Space Applications Centre established at Ahmedabad.
1975: Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (1975-76) using an US satellite.
1976: First Indian Satellite, Aryabhata, launched on April 19, 1975.
1977: Satellite Telecommunciation Experiments Project (1977-79) using Franco-German Symphonie Satellite.
1979: Bhaskara-1, an earth observation experimental satellite, launched. First experimental launch of Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3) carrying Rohini satellite. Satellite was not placed in the orbit.
1980: Second experimental launch of SLV-3 with Rohini satellite. Mission successful.
1981: First developmental launch of SLV-3. Rohini satellite placed in orbit. Launch of APPLE, an experimental geo-stationary communication satellite. Launch of Bhaskara-2 by an USSR rocket.
1982: Launch of Insat-1A communication satellite by an US rocket.
1983: Second developmental flight of SLV-3 placed Rohini satellite in orbit. Insat system commissioned with the launch to Insat-1B satellite.
1984: First Indian cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma was in Russian space station Salyut-7 for eight days. He flew in a Russian rocket Soyuz T-11.
1987: First development launch of Augmented SLV (ASLV) with satellite SROSS-1. Mission failed.
1988: Launch of Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite IRA-1A through Russsian rocket. Second developmental flight of ASLV with SROSS satellite. Mission failed.
1990s onwards: The era of PSLVs and foreign exchange earnings
The 1990s saw PSLV rocket hitting success repeatedly and becoming the workhorse of ISRO. The rocket also earned foreign exchange by launching foreign satellites.
1991: Launch of second operational remote sensing satellite IRS-1B.
1992: First successful launch of ASLV placing SROSS-C satellite. Launch of Insat-2A, the first satellite of the indigenously built second generation Insat series followed by 3 and 4 series.
1993: First developmental flight of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) with IRS-1E. Mission failed.
1994: Fourth developmental flight of ASLV with SROSS-C2. Mission successful. Successful launch of PSLV placing IRS-P2 in orbit.
1996: Third developmental flight of PSLV with IRS-P3.
1997: First operational launch of PSLV carrying IRS-1D.
1999: PSLV started carrying foreign payloads (Korean and German satellites) along with ISRO’s satellite Oceansat.
2000 onwards: Getting ready the heavy rocket and going for interplanetary missions
2001: Successful launch of heavy rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) with GSAT-1 satellite. Launch of PSLV with India’s Technology Experimental Satellite and satellites from Belgium and Germany.
2002: Launch of Kalpana-1 satellite on board PSLV rocket.
2003: Launch of GSat-2 onboard GSLV and Resourcesat-1 by PSLV.
2004: Launch of Edusat by GSLV’s first operational flight.
2005: Commissioning of second launch pad at Sriharikota. Launch of Cartosat-1, Hamsat by PSLV.
2006: Second operational flight of GSLV with Insat-4C. First time an Indian rocket carried a communication satellite. Mission failed.
2007: Launch of Cartosat-2 with Space Capsule Recovery Experiment and two foreign satellites and successful recovery of the space capsule. Launch of Italian satellite AGILE by PSLV and Insat-4CR by GSLV.
2008: Launch of Israeli satellite Tecsar by PSLV. Launch of 10 satellites by a single PSLV — 2 Indian and 8 foreign. Launch of India’s first moon mission Chandrayaan-1 by PSLV. Sanction for Chandrayaan-2 given by the government.
2009: Launch of Radar Imaging Satellite (Risat-2) and Anusat from Anna University (first satellite from an Indian University) by PSLV. Launch of seven satellites by PSLV, including India’s Oceansat.
2010: Failure of two GSLV missions. Launch of Cartosat-2B, STUDSAT and three small foreign satellites by PSLV.
2011: Launch of Resourcest-2 and two small satellites by PSLV. Launch of GSAT-12 by PSLV. Launch of Megha Tropiques and three small satellites by PSLV.
2012: Launch of Risat-1 and SPOT by PSLV
2013: Launch of Saral satellite, IRNSS-1A (navigation satellite) and Mars Orbiter by PSLV.
2014: Launch of GSAT-14 by GSLV rocket, IRNSS-1B and IRNSS-IC, SPOT 7 and GSLV-Mk III testing Crew Module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment (CARE).
2015: Launch of IRNSS-1D, DMC3 satellites from UK, GSAT-6, Astrosat, GSAT-15 by Ariane rocket, TeLEOS, Singapore.
2016: Launch of IRNSS-1E, IRNSS-1F, IRNSS-1G, Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator, Cartosat-2 series, Scramjet Engine Technology Demonstrator, INSAT-3DR by GSLV, SCATSAT-1, Resourcesat-2A and GSAT-18 by Ariane rocket.
2017: Launch of Cartosat-2 Series, GSAT-9 by GSLV, GSAT-19 by GSLV-Mk III, Cartosat, GSAT-17 by Ariane and IRNSS-1H (failed as heat shield did not open).
2018: Launch of Cartosat, GSAT-6A by GSLV, IRNSS-1L, Flight Testing of Crew Escape System for human space mission, NovaSAR, UK, GSAT-29 by GSLV-Mk III, HysIS, GSAT-11 by Ariane and GSAT-7A by GSLV. ISRO decides to transfer Lithium ion battery technology.
2019: Launch of Microsat-R, GSAT-31 by Ariane, EMISAT and RISAT-2B and second moon mission Chandrayaan-2.