(IGP) GS Paper 1 - General Science - "India’s Space Programme"

Integrated Guidance Programme of General Studies for IAS (Pre) - 2013

Subject - General Science
Chapter :  India’s Space Programme

 India’s Space Programme:

  • The setting up of the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in 1963 marked the beginning of the Indian space program.
  • The Space Commission and the Department of Space (DOS) were established by the Government of India in 1972 to promote unified development and application of space science and technology for national objectives.

  • The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was set up as the research and development wing of DOS and is responsible for the execution of India’s national space program.

Indian National Satellite (INSAT) System:

The INSAT series, commissioned in 1983, has today become one of the largest domestic satellites systems in the Asia, pacific region comprising Eleven satellites in service 

  • INSAT-2E Launched on Apr 03,1999
  • INSAT-3B Launched on Mar 22,2000
  • INSAT-3C Launched on Jan 24,2002
  • INSAT-3A Launched on Apr 10,2003
  • INSAT-3E Launched on Sep 28,2003

For Detail Description, Analysis and More MCQs of the Chapter Buy this Study Notes:

Indian Remote Sensing Satellites System (IRS):

The Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite system is one of the largest constellations of remote sensing satellites in operation in the world today. The IRS programme commissioned with launch of IRS-1A in 1988 and presently includes Nine satellites that continue to provide imageries in variety of spatial resolutions from better than a metre ranging upto 500 metres.

  • RESOURCESAT-1 Launched on Oct 17, 2003 by PSLV-C5
  • CARTOSAT-1 Launched on May 05, 2005 by PSLV-C6
  • CARTOSAT - 2 Launched on Jan 10, 2007 by PSLV-C7
  • CARTOSAT-2A Launched on Apr 28, 2008 by PSLV-C9
  • IMS-1 Launched on Apr 28, 2008 by PSLV-C9
  • RISAT-2 Launched on Apr 20, 2009 by PSLV-C12
  • OCEANSAT-2 Launched on Sept 23, 2009 by PSLV-C14

Launch Vehicles:

Today, Indian space programme has become self-reliant with the operationalisation of two satellite launch vehicles, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), mainly for launching IRS class of satellites in polar orbits and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) for launching communication satellites into geo-synchronous transfer orbit. GSLV can carry 2- 2.5 tonne satellite in to 36,000 Kilometer range for geo stationery transfer orbit and India is only the sixth country in the world to have this capability. So far ;

  • PSLV has sixteen consecutively successful flights out of seventeen launches
  • GSLV has four successful flights of six launches


  • The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle,usually known by its abbreviation PSLV is the first operational launch vehicle of ISRO. PSLV is capable of launching 1600 kg satellites in 620 km sun-synchronous polar orbit and 1050 kg satellite in geo-synchronous transfer orbit. In the standard configuration, it measures 44.4 m tall, with a lift off weight of 295 tonnes. PSLV has four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately. The first stage is one of the largest solid propellant boosters in the world and carries 139 tonnes of propellant. A cluster of six strap-ons attached to the first stage motor, four of which are ignited on the ground and two are air-lit.

Typical Parameters of PSLV:

  • Lift-off weight : 295 tonne 
  • Pay Load: 1600 kg in to 620 km Polar Orbit,1060 kg in to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) 
  • Height: 44 metre

(GSLV)-Mark I&II:

  • Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle(GSLV)-Mark I&II ,is capable of placing INSAT–II class of satellites (2000 – 2,500 kg) into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).  GSLV is a three stage vehicle GSLV is 49 m tall, with 414 t lift off weight. It has a maximum diameter of 3.4 m at the payload fairing. First stage comprises S125 solid booster with four liquid (L40) strap-ons.  Second stage (GS2) is liquid engine and the third stage (GS3) is a cryo stage. 

Typical Parameters of GSLV Lift-off weight : 414 tonne 

  • Pay Load: 2 to 2.5 Tonne in to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) 
  • Height : 49 metre


  • The GSLV-III or Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III , is a launch vehicle currently under development by the Indian Space Research Organization. GSLV Mk III is conceived and designed to make ISRO fully self reliant in launching heavier communication satellites of INSAT-4 class, which weigh 4500 to 5000  kg. It would also enhance the capability of the country to be a competitive player in the multimillion dollar commercial launch market. The vehicle envisages multi-mission launch capability  for GTO, LEO, Polar and intermediate circular orbits.

  • GSLV-Mk III is designed to be a three stage vehicle, with 42.4 m tall with a lift off weight of 630 tonnes. First stage comprises two identical S200 Large Solid Booster (LSB) with 200 tonne solid propellant, that are strapped on to the second stage, the L110 re-startable liquid stage. The third stage is the C25 LOX/LH2 cryo stage. The large payload fairing measures 5 m in diameter and can accommodate a payload volume of 100 cu m. The development work on Mk III is progressing as per schedule for a launch in 2012.

Typical Parameters of GSLV Mark III

  • Lift-off weight : 630 Tonne
  • Pay Load: 4 Tonne in to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) 
  • Height: 49 metre

Space Science Missions:

  • Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE-II): The main objective of SRE II is to realize a fully recoverable capsule and provide a platform to conduct microgravity experiments on Micro-biology, Agriculture, Powder Metallurgy, etc. SRE-2 is proposed to be launched onboard PSLV-C19 in of 2010 - 11.

  • Chandrayaan-2: Chandrayaan-2 mission is planned to have an orbiter/lander/rover configuration. The mission is expected to be realised by 2012 - 13. The science goals of the mission is to further improve our understanding of origin and evolution of the Moon using instruments onboard Orbiter and in-situ analysis of lunar samples and studies of lunar regolith properties (remote & direct analysis) using Robots/Rovers

  • Aditya-1: The First Indian space based Solar Coronagraph to study solar Corona in visible and near IR bands. Launch of the Aditya mission is planned during the next high solar activity period ~ 2012. The main objectives is to study the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) and consequently the crucial physical parameters for space weather such as the coronal magnetic field structures, evolution of the coronal magnetic field etc.
    This will provide completely new information on the velocity fields and their variability in the inner corona having an important bearing on the unsolved problem of heating of the corona would be obtained.

Satellite Navigation GAGAN:

  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation has decided to implement an indigenous Satellite-Based Regional GPS Augmentation System also known as Space-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) as part of the Satellite-Based Communications, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS)/Air Traffic Management (ATM) plan for civil aviation. The Indian SBAS system has been given an acronym GAGAN - GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation. A national plan for satellite navigation including implementation of Technology Demonstration System (TDS) over the Indian air space as a proof of concept has been prepared jointly by Airports Authority of India (AAI) and ISRO. TDS was successfully completed during 2007 by installing eight Indian Reference Stations (INRESs) at eight Indian airports and linked to the Master Control Center (MCC) located near Bangalore. The first GAGAN navigation payload has been fabricated and it was proposed to be flown on GSAT-4 during Apr 2010. However, GSAT-4 was not placed in orbit as GSLV-D3 could not complete the mission. Two more GAGAN payloads will be subsequently flown, one each on two geostationary satellites, GSAT-8 and GSAT-10.

For Detail Description, Analysis and More MCQs of the Chapter Buy this Study Notes:

<< Go Back to IGP Main Page