ISRO''s milestones

By Chennai: | 31 Dec 2004


The first operational flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV F 01) proved a success. The vehicle launched Edusat, India's first thematic satellite dedicated to educational services.

Secondly the India-US Conference on Space Science, Applications and Commerce marked a new beginning in the India US space cooperation.

ISRO began the year with a positive note announcing its launch of a Brazilian satellite and building a ground station in Brazil. ISRO's commercial arm Antrix Corporation Limited extended its agreement with the US-based Space Imaging and signed an agreement to launch Agile, an Italian satellite, sometime next year.

ISRO also commenced talks with the Boeing Corporation for supplying 2-ton satellites.

However, the blast at the solid propellant rocket booster plant in Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota in February killing six people was a major setback for the nation, particularly since it is one of the biggest in the world.

The blast occurred when a test propellant segment caught fire while being readied for transporting after curing. The solid propellant is hydroxyl-terminated poly-butadiene (HTPB) which powers India's space missions.

The inauguration of the first cluster of 'village resource centres' and further expansion of the tele-medicine network reiterated India's commitment to use space technology for wider civilian applications.

Here is a recap of some highlights India's Space Programme during 2004:
January 28, 2004: Inauguration of Edusat Pilot Project:
ISRO launched the Edusat pilot project in Karnataka as part of the first phase of Edusat programme. Under the pilot project, Visveswaraya Technological Institute has networked about 100 engineering colleges for conducting technological courses.

February 1, 2004: Atmospheric Aerosol Campaign Begins:
ISRO launched a month-long campaign on atmospheric aerosols. During the campaign, vehicle equipped with sophisticated instruments travelled 6,000 km in south India to measure physical, chemical and optical properties of aerosols and trace gases along the road corridors. The campaign, carried out as part of 'geosphere-biosphere programme', was to obtain a better insight of properties and composition of aerosols and their distribution across various latitudes.

February 3, 2004: Antrix Corporation and Space Imaging extend its agreement.

February 24, 2004: Blast kills 6 in the Sriharikota fuel plant.
A big blast at the 'solid propellant rocket booster plant' in the SDSC, SHAR, Sriharikota, killed six persons and injured three.

June 21-25, 2004: India-US Conference:
The India-US Conference on 'space science, applications and commerce' was held at Bangalore during with the objective of strengthening and expanding the cooperation between India and the US in the field of space science and applications as well as related commercial activity. About 550 delegates including 200 from US attended the conference, which culminated with the issue of a vision statement for enhanced cooperation between the two countries.

August 19, 2004: Airdrop test of space-capsule recovery experiment:
The airdrop test of the space-capsule recovery experiment (SRE) was successfully conducted from SDSC, SHAR, Sriharikota. SRE is will be used for demonstrating technology to recover a 500-kg orbiting space capsule that will be launched by 'polar satellite launch vehicle' (PSLV) during the second half of 2005.

September 20, 2004: GSLV launches Edusat:
In its first operational flight, India's 'geo-synchronous satellite launch vehicle', GSLV, successfully launched from SDSC, SHAR, Sriharikota, the country's first thematic satellite dedicated to educational services, the 1950-kg Edusat, into a precise predetermined 'geo-synchronous transfer orbit' (GTO). The satellite has since been positioned in its designated orbital slot at 74 degree East longitude in the 36,000km high Geo-synchronous orbit.

October 18, 2004: Satellite-based Village Resource Centres Inaugurated:
The Prime Minister inaugurated the first cluster of four 'village resource centres' in Tamil Nadu, established jointly by ISRO and the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation. The centre is a totally interactive VSAT- (Very Small Aperture Terminal) based network to provide space enabled information and a variety of services like tele-education, tele-medicine, online decision support, interactive farmers' advisory services, tele-fisheries, e-governance services, weather services and water management. The centres will also provide connectivity to speciality hospitals thus bringing the services of expert doctors closer to the villages.

November 12, 2004: MoU Signed for Indo-French Satellite Mission--Megha-Tropiques:
ISRO signed a memorandum of understanding with the French space agency, CNES, for the development and launch of an atmospheric satellite, Megha-Tropiques for investigating the contribution of the water cycle in the tropical atmosphere to climate dynamics. India will build the Megha-Tropiques spacecraft and will also launch the satellite using its PSLV as well as maintain the satellite in orbit, receive, process and distribute the scientific data from the satellite. While two of the scientific instruments for the satellite will be designed and built by CNES, the third will be built jointly by ISRO and CNES. The launch is planned by 2008-2009.

November 22-26, 2004: International Lunar Conference:
The 'sixth international lunar conference' was organised at Udaipur to discuss current results on lunar science, including questions regarding its origin and resources, the future prospects of creating a lunar base for planetary exploration and possible human settlement. India's Chandrayaan-1 mission slated for 2007-08 drew international attention during the conference.

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