Author: Mr. Gaurav Sharma ( Author is a Scientist and working with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for India’s Future Space Missions)
The story goes right back to 1960’s…
A Scene which shows a bullock cart carrying APPLE satellite, and a young man carrying sounding rocket on bicycle near the coastal area of Arabian sea named Thumba (Trivandrum), a scientifically significant place of motherly India in gods own country Kerala.
As in almost all cases here being no different, the story originates from the vision of a great visionary and physicist named ‘VIKRAM SARABHAI’ (12 August 1919 – 30 December 1971). In a short life span of 52 years he saw a vision of India’s space programme and endeavored for this scientific cause with great interest. Despite the less interest by newly liberated India, it is axiomatic that it was not easy task for him to convince Indian government for the relevance of Space programme for such a developing nation. This pursuit of Sarabhai embraced the India’s space dream and as quoted by former INDIAN President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam “The dream is not which you see in sleep, dream is which does not let you sleep”. With all possible efforts he made government of the day to resonate for initiatives and provide funding for INDIA’s space programme. And thus Sarabhai started to vivify INDIA’s space dream.
When Vikram Sarabhai was questioned by inquisitive and curious people about relevance of investment in the field of space technology, he replied:
“There are some who question the relevance of space activities in a developing nation. To us, there is no ambiguity of purpose. We do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the exploration of the moon or the planets or manned space-flight.”
“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 advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society.”
Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha supported Dr. Sarabhai in setting up the first rocket launching station in India. This center was established at Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram on the coast of the Arabian Sea, primarily because of its proximity to the equator. From here only, the inaugural flight was launched on November 21, 1963. Which ignited interest of Indian youth and researchers to work in this area. Which soon made ISRO’s workforce to increase from a handful of people to 100’s in number, many or almost none of them worked for monetary interests. The list includes internationally known scientists and likes of Dr. A.P.J Abdul kalam, Dr. M.G.K. Menon, Prof. Satish Dhawan, Prof. U.R. Rao, Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Shri. G.Madhavan Nair, Dr. B.N. Suresh, Dr. S. Ramakrishnan and Dr. K. Radhakrishnan. Now they all are known as the big guns of Indian Space Technology field.
Today ISRO is counted amongst top six government space agencies in the world and has thousands of scientists and technical experts of various fields working for future space missions. ISRO has recorded more than 100 successful space missions. Headed under the umbrella of department of space, ISRO has to its credit a large variety of satellite launches and launch vehicles. Starting from launch of Aryabhata satellite in 1975 from the soil of SOVIET UNION and ROHINI as INDIA’s first satellite launched in 1980 from SLV-3, India now has capability to launch satellite from its own Launch pad at Sriharikota with payload capacity upto 5 tonnes. And to no surprise, today India has established capabilities to cater the need of space programs of various other countries. Many space agencies today seek to partner with ISRO for future space endeavors and technological exchange.
Space programme of ISRO has contributed to the field of Medicine, Education, weather forecasting, telecommunication and Satellite surveillance. And to continue with the space activities ISRO has in its pocket missions like CHANDRAYAAN-2, Human space programme, Mars orbiter, Aditya-1 and GAGAN, which would fulfill INDIA’s extraterrestrial research needs.
Founded by great visionaries and headed by various known scientists, ISRO definitely has a greater role to play for human kind and development of India.