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  • India’s space programme stands out as one of the most cost-effective in the world. India has earned worldwide recognition for launching lunar probes, built satellites, ferried foreign satellites up and has even succeeded in reaching Mars.1
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has formal co-operative arrangements in place with 33 countries and three multinational bodies.
  • There are 30 spacecrafts placed in differing orbital paths.
  • The number of rocket launches undertaken by ISRO during the last five years i.e. from 2015 to 2019 is as follows:
    • 2015: 5 launches (4 PSLV & 1 GSLV)
    • 2016: 7 launches (6 PSLV&1 GSLV)
    • 2017: 5 launches (3 PSLV, 1 GSLV & 1 GSLV Mk-III) 
    • 2018: 9 launches
    • 2019: 7 launches
  • From January 2015 till December 2019, a total of 319 foreign satellites from 33 countries were successfully launched onboard Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). Revenue earned through these launches was approx. USD 112.03 Mn.2
  • India’s space programme has attracted global attention for its accelerated rate of development.
  • India's PSLV has launched a total of 84 satellites of which 51 are for international customers, during the years 1994-2015.3
  • ISRO has forged a strong relationship with many industrial enterprises, both in the public and private sector, to implement its space projects.
  • With the ISRO undertaking the development of cutting-edge technologies and interplanetary exploratory missions, there is a tremendous scope in contributions to the realization of operational missions and new areas such as satellite navigation.


  • The technologies licensed to industries for commercialization include Multi-Layer Printed Antenna Technology and DDV 100 Resin system. In addition to this, industries have been shortlisted for the know-how transfer of Dual Polarization LIDAR, Solid State Power Amplifier, Precision Tapping Attachment and EPY 1061 coating compound. There are several technologies identified for know-how transfer from ISRO. These include various types of adhesives and polymers, silica fibre and granule material, ceramics, pressure transducers, liquid level detectors, temperature sensors, silver plating and thermal control coating techniques, ground penetration radar, elastic Raman Lidar, Lower Atmospheric Wind Profiling radar etc. As of 2016, over 300 technologies have been transferred to Indian industries. The Licensee industries continue to produce and market the products licensed by ISRO.4


  • ISRO provides technical consultancy services to industries and R&D institutions in diverse areas of its expertise. Some recent areas where consulting services have been provided are: gold plating application on MMIC-based Ku-band receiver and on aluminium boxes, fabrication of precision components, mechanical shock tests, to name a few. 
  • Space activities in the country were initiated with the setting up of the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962.
  • The ISRO was established in August 1969.
  • The Government of India constituted the Space Commission and established the Department of Space (DOS) in June 1972 and brought ISRO under DOS in September 1972.
  • Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), in its 21st flight (PSLV-C19), launched India’s first radar imaging Satellite (RISAT-1) from Sriharikota on 26 April 2012. One orbited India’s radar imaging Satellite (RISAT-1) and the other, a French Remote Sensing Satellite SPOT-6 and the Japanese satellite PROITERES. In its 22nd flight (PSLV-C21), PSLV successfully launched the French earth observation satellite SPOT-6, along with Japanese micro-satellite PROITERES from Sriharikota on 09 September 2012.
  • India’s heaviest communication satellite, GSAT-10, was successfully launched by Ariane-5 VA 209 from Kourou, French Guiana on 29 September 2012.
  • PSLV, in its 23rd flight (PSLV-C20), successfully launched Indo-French Satellite SARAL along with six smaller foreign satellites from Sriharikota on 25 February 2013.
  • Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) launched successfully on 08 September 2016 by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). 6 GSAT-18 successfully launched by Ariane-5 VA-231 from Kourou, French Guiana on 06 October 2016. 6 India successfully launched South Asia Satellite, GSAT-9 on 05 May 2017.5
  • PSLV C42 successfully launched NovaSAR and S1-4 in sun-synchronous orbit on 16 September 2018. PSLV-C43 successfully launched HysIS and 30 Satellites on 29 November 2019.
  • PSLV-C45 successfully launched EMISAT and 28 international customer satellites on 01 April 2019.6
  • ISRO has a constellation of nine communication satellites, 1 meteorological satellite, 10 earth observation satellites and one scientific satellite.


  • The prime objective of ISRO is to develop space technology and its application to various national tasks.


  • Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of the Department of Space has undertaken many initiatives for the global marketing of space products and services. Antrix has continued to expand its market base.
  • There has been good progress in the provision of TTC support to international customers.


  • Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV): SLV’s first launch took place in 1979 with two more in each subsequent year, and the final launch took place in 1982.
  • Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV): The first launch test was held in 1987, and three others followed in 1988, 1992 and 1994.
  • Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV): PSLV can launch Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites into sun-synchronous orbits. It can also launch small satellites into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The reliability and versatility of the PSLV is proven by the fact that it has launched 30 spacecrafts (14 Indian and 16 from other countries) into a variety of orbital paths so far.
  • Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV): The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, known by its abbreviation GSLV, is an expendable launch system developed to enable India in launching its INSAT-type satellites into geostationary orbit and to make India less dependent on foreign rockets. GSLV is ISRO’s heaviest satellite launch vehicle and can put a total payload of up to five tonnes to Low Earth Orbit.


  • At the ISRO Satellite Center (ISAC), space science research activities are pursued at
    • Physical Research Laboratory (PRL)
    • Space Physics Laboratory (SPL)
    • National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL)
    • Special Advisory Group (SAG)
  • Many space science research projects in the field of atmospheric science, astronomy and planetary exploration and science payload development activities are supported and implemented by ISRO through the recommendations of ISRO’s Advisory Committee for Space Sciences (ADCOS).
  • Mars Orbiter Mission is ISRO’s first interplanetary mission to Mars with a spacecraft designed to orbit Mars in an elliptical orbit of 372 kms by 80,000 kms. The primary driving technological objective of the mission is to design and realize a spacecraft with a capability to reach Mars (Martian Transfer Trajectory), then to orbit around Mars (Mars Orbit Insertion) over a period of nine months. As on June 2017, Mars Orbiter Mission completed 1000 Earth days in its orbit.7
  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) up to 100% is allowed in satellites-establishment and operation, subject to the sectoral guidelines of the Department of Space/ISRO, under the government route.


  • A policy framework for Satellite Communication in India had been approved by Government in 1997.
  • The norms, guidelines and procedures for implementation of the Policy Framework for Satellite Communications in India, approved by the government in the Year 2000.
  • The INSAT Programme is managed by the INSAT Coordination Committee (ICC) with the technical support of its Technical Advisory Group (TAG). All the guidelines regarding the INSAT system shall be determined by the INSAT Coordination Committee(ICC) keeping in view Policy Framework for Satellite Communications in India.8
  • In 2011, India adopted the Remote Sensing Data (RSD) Policy. National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of ISRO/ DOS is consigned with the authority to obtain and circulate all satellite remote sensing data in India, both from Indian and foreign satellites. Antrix Corporation Ltd. (of DOS) will be accountable for grant of license for acquisition/ distribution of IRS data outside India. NRSC will uphold a systematic National Remote Sensing Data Archive and a log of all acquisitions of data for all satellites.9
  • Formal co-operative arrangements are currently in place with space agencies of 33 countries and three multinational bodies, namely, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Egypt, European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), European Organisation for Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), European Space Agency (ESA), France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, the Netherlands, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Venezuela.
  • The areas of co-operation address mainly remote sensing of the earth, satellite communication, launch services, telemetry and tracking support, space exploration, space law and capacity building.
  • Co-operative instruments signed during last year are:
    1. An implementation arrangement between ISRO and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the USA for collaboration of OCEANSAT-2 activities.
    2. Implementing arrangement between ISRO and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of USA for the collaboration of OCEANSAT-2 activities.
    3. Implementing arrangements between ISRO and NASA for co-operation on Global Precipitation Measurement and Megha-Tropiques.
    4. Memorandum of Understanding between India and Australia concerning co-operation in Civil Space Science, Technology and Education.
    5. Cooperation Agreement among ISRO, CNES and EUMETSAT concerning the use of Near Real-Time Megha-Tropiques data.
  • ISRO and the French National Space Agency (CNES) have worked in synergy to make available data products from Indo-French Megha-Tropiques satellite to the global scientific community for validation activities.
  • India-USA space cooperation made significant progress during last year and several follow-up actions of the third meeting of India-USA Joint Working Group on Civil Space Cooperation held at Bangalore in July 2011 were actively pursued.
  • The wind products derived from OCEANSAT-2 Scatterometer are disseminated globally since October 2012 for operational global applications through an arrangement with EUMETSAT.
  • The processed data from meteorological satellites of other nations are made available by EUMETSAT to Indian scientific community through a system called ‘EUMETCast’.
  • ISRO and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) are working on the development of the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UVIT) planned on ISRO’s multi-wavelength astronomy satellite ASTROSAT.
  • ISRO continues to share its facilities, expertise and services in the application of space technology through hosting of United Nations (UN) affiliated Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTE-AP). As of now, there are more than 1100 beneficiaries from 52 countries.
  • ISRO, on behalf of India, continues to play an active role in the deliberation of the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS).


    • GSLV III is designed to launch heavier communication satellites weighing 4500 to 5000 kg, it would also enhance the capability of the country to be a competitive player.
    • GSLV is designed to put satellites to geosynchronous transfer orbit, an intermediate orbit to which satellites ultimately destined for geostationary are normally taken by launchers.
    • On 29 March 2018, India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F08) successfully launched GSAT-6A Satellite into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).10
  • Chandrayaan-2
    • India second moon mission, launched in 2016-17, has a soft land over a wheeled robotic vehicle to explore the landing area. This has three modules namely Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) & Rover (Pragyan).
    • The Orbiter and Lander modules will be interfaced mechanically and stacked together as an integrated module and accommodated inside the GSLV MK-III launch vehicle. The Rover is housed inside the Lander.
    • After launching into earthbound orbit by GSLV MK-III, the integrated module will reach Moon orbit using Orbiter propulsion module. Lander will separate from the Orbiter and soft land at the predetermined site close to the lunar South Pole. The Rover will roll out for carrying out scientific experiments on the lunar surface. Instruments are also mounted on Lander and Orbiter for carrying out scientific experiments.
    • All the modules are getting ready for Chandrayaan-2 launch during the window of 09 July 2019 to 16 July 2019 with an expected Moon landing on 06 September 2019.11
  • India plans to send manned spacecraft to space by 2022 and India will be the fourth country to do this.12
  • Mars Orbiter Mission: Mars Orbiter Mission has been India's first interplanetary mission to planet Mars with an orbiter craft designed to orbit Mars in an elliptical orbit. Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) was launched on 05 November 2013 by PSLV-C25.13
  • Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV):
    • The PSLV is capable of launching 1600 kg satellites in 620 km sun-synchronous polar orbit s and 1050 kg satellite.
    • ISRO’s PSLV, in its 42nd flight, PSLV-C40 successfully launched the 710 kg Cartosat-2 Series Remote Sensing Satellite along with 30 co-passenger satellites on 12 January 2018, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.14


  • PSLV-C30 was successfully launched, carrying six foreign customer satellites (one each from Indonesia and Canada and four nanosatellites from the USA). PSLV has launched 51 satellites which are for international customers.15
  • SPOT-7
    • Country: France
    • Mass: 714 kilograms
    • Objective: Earth Observation satellite, like SPOT-6. This will form part of the existing earth observation constellation.
  • NLS.1 & NLS7.2
    • Country: Canada
    • Mass: 15 kilograms
    • Objective: Experiments on formation, flying of two satellites which are very near to each other in orbit, using GPS.
  • VELOX-1
    • Country: Singapore
    • Mass: 7 kilograms
    • Objective: Experiments technology demonstration of satellite-based cameras and associated systems.
    • Country: Germany
    • Mass: 14 kilograms
    • Objective: A global sea-traffic monitoring system.
  1. India’s space odyssey from rocket on bullet cart to Mars, PIB, 
  2. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO),
  3. ISRO Crosses 50 International Customer Satellite Launch Mark, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), 
  4. Technology Transferred, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), 
  5. The GSLV Saga, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), 
  6. PSLV-C45 successfully launches EMISAT and 28 customer satellites, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO),'s%20Polar%20Satellite%20Launch%20Vehicle,with%20four%20strap%2Don%20motors.
  7. Mars Orbiter Mission Completes 1000 Days in Orbit, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), 
  8. INSAT coordination Committee, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), 
  9. National Remote Sensing Centre, 
  10. Year End Review, Department of Space, PIB,
  11. Chandrayaan-2, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), 
  12. Year End Review, Department of Space, PIB,
  13. Mars Orbiter Mission Completes 1000 Days in Orbit, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), 
  14. Year End Review, Department of Space, PIB,
  15. ISRO Crosses 50 International Customer Satellite Launch Mark, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), 
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