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Space Exploration

Think of space, you get this picture of vast empty or open area, where you are not bound
by gravitational force and float blissfully with a spirit of freedom without drowning
anywhere! And you did see pictures of astronauts who have gone beyond the earth’s
surface into the outer space to explore and touch an unknown realm. Many of you even
dream of being an astronaut yourself!! Well you definitely can be, but before building
your dreams in space, won’t you get acquainted how it is possible!
Well, you are already aware of the fact that the vast and limitless region, which exists
beyond the earth’s atmosphere, is called outer space or just space.

Space contains all the stars, planets, meteorites, comets, asteroids, dust, gas and
radiations. The collection of information about the various objects present in outer space
is called space exploration. In fact, to know the mysteries of outer space and the objects
in it has always been a dream of mankind. Of all the objects in outer space, perhaps the
moon has been the greatest centre of attraction for man. This is because moon was the
usual destination of the imaginary space travellers conceived in the books of science
fiction and other literature, apart from an object of inspiration for many a poets!
And the time has come when man did fulfill his desire to explore in the mysteries of
space, when he first stepped of the surface of moon! Lets take a brief peep into man’s
exploration of space and his challenging expedition on the moon through a series of
focuses--

Satellite

History of Space Exploration

Space Science in India

Salient Features of the Indian Space Research Programme

Aryabhatta Satellite

Bhaskara Satellite

Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS)

Ariane Passenger Pay-Load Experiment (APPLE)

Satellite

A satellite is a celestial object which revolves round a planet in circular path or elliptical
path. For example, the moon revolves around the earth, so moon is a satellite of the earth.
The satellites are of two types: natural satellites and man-made satellites (or artificial
satellites). The moon is a natural satellite of the earth, these days, however, the term
satellite is used for man-made satellites (or artificial satellites) which keep on revolving
around the earth.
An example of man-made satellite (or artificial earth satellite) is INSAT-IB. The satellites
revolve around the earth in a definite path. The closed path of a satellite around the earth
is called its orbit. The orbit of a satellite may be circular or elliptical in shape.

The various characteristics which define the orbit of a satellite around the earth are --
(i) Apogee
(ii) Perigee, and
(iii) Inclination

(i) Apogee is the farthest point from the earth on the orbit, of a satellite.

(ii) Perigee is the nearest point from the earth on the orbit of a satellite.

(iii) The inclination of the orbit of a satellite is the angle by the orbit of the satellite with
the equator of the earth.

History of Space Exploration

You must know in detail the process of man’s achievements to unfold the secrets of space
through the times, which has each time enhanced his experience to probe further!

1.Man’s very first experiment in the space!

The first step into space for the exploration of outer space was taken on 4th October 1957
when the erstwhile Soviet Union (USSR) successfully launched the first man-made
satellite "Sputnik-I" into space (Sputnik means fellow traveller). This first satellite
weighed about 84 kilograms. Sputnik-I satellite had an orbit with an apogee of 941
kilometers and perigee of 227 kilometres.Sputnik-I was launched to carry out studies as a
part of the International Geographical Year. The United States of America (USA) also
followed the Soviet Union and launched their first spacecraft called "Explorer" after a
few months, which weighed only a few kilograms. Since then space technology has made
very rapid progress. The satellites or other space-probes (called "payloads") have grown
many times in size and weight and their functions have become more and more complex
and diverse.

2. This tells a sad story of dog called Laika who dies in space!

After a few weeks of the launching of Sputnik-I satellite, the erstwhile Soviet Union
launched another satellite named Sputnik-II. The Sputnik-II satellite carried a dog named
"Laika" into theouter space for the first time. The weight of this satellite was 500
kilograms. While the Laika dog was revolving around the earth in Sputnik-1I satellite, its
blood pressure, heart-beat and temperature were monitored for eight days continuously.

After this the Laika dog was allowed to die in space because the technique to bring it
back to earth safely had not been developed at that time. But the data collected by
Sputnik-II satellite which took a dog into outer space, provided vital information, which
paved the way for sending the first man into outer space.

3. After the first un-manned space flight of Sputnik-I, it took nearly four years time to
send the first man into space. The first man to go into space was Yuri Gagarin of the
erstwhile Soviet Union (USSR). The name of space-craft which took Yuri Gagarin into
space was Vostok-I which was launched on 12th April 1961. Yuri Gagarin completed a
single revolution around the earth on 12th April 1961 in his spacecraft Vostok-I. After
a few days of Yuri Gagarin's flight, America also sent its first man into space. In this
way, Alan Shepard became the first American to go into space on 5th May 1961.

4. Only two countries- erstwhile Soviet Union and the United Sates of America were of
the world who had know- how of space technology. Both the countries developed
these technologies independently for various purposes like long distance
communications, meteorological studies, scientific experiments, etc.

And finally the experiments put man on moon. An American spacecraft called Apollo11
took man to the moon on 20th July 1969. Neil Armstrong was the first man to step on the
surface of moon. Edwin Aldrin landed on the moon after another 8 minutes.

5. Establishments of permanent `space stations’ and the development of `space


shuttles’ was another significant event in the space during 1980’s. These space
shuttlers are used to taking astronauts into outer space and bring them back to earth.
And there was yet another important establishment of a permanent observatory in
space and the maiden flight of Voyager II space craft to all the planets of the solar
system. And the progress continues with zeal.

SPACE SCIENCE IN INDIA

Well India never lagged back! The foundation of space research in India was laid in 1961
when the Government of India entrusted the task of developing a programme on space
research to its Department of Atomic Energy. The Department of Atomic Energy set up a
National Committee, which identified two major objectives for India’s space research
programme with objectives--

(i) To utilise space technology for the rapid development of mass communications and
education, especially in the far-flung rural areas.

(ii) To utilise space technology for the timely survey and management of the country's
natural resources (like coal, petroleum, ores, underground water, etc.)
After laying the foundation of space research in India, it was realised that the vast
potential of Space technology can be used for the socio-economic development of
the country only by developing indigenous techniques for placing a satellite in the
earth’s orbit. In order to boost the technological efforts to make India self reliant in
the field of space technology, a space commission was set up in 1972 and a separate
Department of Space was established. The Department of Space executes its space
programmes through the Indian Space Research Organization (which is written in
short
as ISRO). The basic requirements for attaining self-sufficiency in the field of space
technology may be categorized as--

(i) To attain self sufficiency in the field of space technology, it was necessary to
develop expertise in planning, designing and fabricating the satellites (or
space-crafts) for various purposes.

(ii) To become self reliant in the field of space technology, it was necessary to
develop suitable launch vehicles (or rockets) which could place the satellites in
earth's orbit.

(iii) To attain self-sufficiency in the field of space technology, it was necessary to


establish "Earth Stations" for launching, tracking, controlling and guiding the
satellites.

(iv) It was also necessary to develop ground facilities for using space technology for
mass communications (like long distance telephone calls and television
broadcasts).

Many organizations and research centers have been established to carry out research and
developmental activities related to the various segments of the space research
programmes. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is one such organisation.
The various tasks, which have been assigned to the Indian Space Research Organisation
(ISRO), are:

(i) To develop the know-how (or expertise) to fabricate the rockets (launch vehicles),
its propellants, its control and guidance systems, and

(ii) To design and fabricate the satellites.

Though the general principles involved in all these aspects of space technology were well
known but the technical know-how had to be learnt with great difficulty by conducting a
large number of researches and experiments. The first Indian rocket RH- 75 was launched
in 1967 from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) near
Thiruvananthapuram. Though this rocket was very small, having a diameter of only 75
mm, but it had all the fundamental features of rocketry in it.

Salient Features of the Indian Space Research Programme

Fabrication of satellites and Development of launch vehicles (or rockets) to put these
satellites into earth's orbit-- Thus, the first aim of the Indian space programme was to
develop expertise in planning, designing, and fabricating space satellites for various
purposes. At the same time, the second aim of the Indian space programme has been to
develop all the necessary technologies, facilities and skills for making suitable launch
vehicles (or rockets) which could carry the satellites into outer space and put them in pre-
determined orbits around the earth.

Another salient feature of the Indian space programme is that the lack in progress in its
one area is not allowed to delay the progress of its other areas. For example, if India is
able to fabricate a satellite then it does not wait for the development of indigenous launch
vehicle for putting it into space. The launching of Indian satellite is carried out in
collaboration with one of the advanced nations by using their launch vehicle (or rocket).
In this way there is no interruption in the Indian space research programme.

Aryabhatta Satellite

This was the first satellite launched by India. This satellite was named after the famous
Indian mathematician " Aryabhatta." In fact, India entered the space age on 19th April
1975 when the first satellite called " Aryabhatta" designed and fabricated in India was
launched from the erstwhile Soviet Union (USSR). This satellite was purely experimental
in nature. Aryabhatta satellite enabled Indian scientists to develop the skills and facilities
for fabricating satellites and monitoring their performance in orbit around the earth. It
also helped in establishing the ground facilities for communicating with the orbiting
satellite, tracking its course and passing on commands to it for carrying out various tasks.
The launching of Aryabhatta satellite also provided an opportunity to Indian scientists to
conduct some experiments in the field of X-ray astronomy, solar physics and
meteorology.

Bhaskara Satellites

Than the second satellite ascends…Bhaskara-l satellite was launched by India next on 7th
June 1979 from the former Soviet Union (USSR). The purpose of launching this satellite
was to develop expertise in collecting data on natural resources through the remote-
sensing technique. In fact, ground water surveys, forest surveys and geological surveys
were conducted through Bhaskara-l satellite and it provided valuable data about these
natural resources Of our country up to March 1981.The second satellite of this series,
Bhaskara-2, was launched from the erstwhile Soviet Union on 20th November 1981. This
satellite functioned successfully for more than two years. This satellite was similar to
Bhaskara-1 but some improvements had been made in it. The success of Bhaskara series
of satellites gave our scientists the necessary competence and confidence to design and
fabricate the yet another fully operational remote sensing satellite for the first time!!

Indian Remote-sensing Satellite (IRS)

The first Indian remote-sensing satellite, IRS-IA, was launched on 17th March 1988
whereas the second Indian remote sensing satellite, IRS-IB, was launched on 29th
August 1991. Both these satellites were launched from the erstwhile Soviet Union (or
USSR). The second remote-sensing satellite, IRS-IB, is still working and it is providing
valuable data about the various natural resources of our country (Please note that IRS =
Indian Remote-sensing Satellite). Before we go further, we should know the meaning of
the term "geostationary orbit". If the relative position of a revolving satellite with
respect to a fixed station on the earth does not change with time, then the orbit of the
satellite is called geostationary. In other words, we can say that the period of revolution
of a geostationary satellite in its orbit around the earth is the same as the period of
rotation of earth on its axis, that is, 24 hours. The earth completes one rotation on its axis
in 24 hours and the satellite put in geostationary orbit also takes 24 hours to complete one
revolution around the earth.

Ariane Passenger Pay-load Experiment (APPLE)

APPLE is a communication satellite launched by India on 19th June 1981. APPLE was
an
experimental satellite which was fabricated by Indian Scientists to gain experience in the
use of satellites for communication purposes (APPLE = Ariane Passenger Pay-Load
Experiment). The APPLE satellite was launched with the help of European space agency
from the Kourou launching facility in French Guyana area of South America. APPLE was
the first Indian satellite put in geostationary orbit.

Indian National Satellites (INSAT)

In 1977, the Indian Space Research Organisation thought of using satellites for
commercial purposes. The satellites to be fabricated and launched under this scheme were
named "INSAT' which means "Indian National Satellite". The satellites to be launched in
the INSAT series were supposed to carry out three independent tasks:

(i) Tele-communications (like long distance telephone calls)

(ii) Television and Radio broadcasting, and

(iii) Meteorological observations (Weather-related observations)

The construction, testing and launching of the first satellite of the INSAT series was given
to an American firm "Ford Aerospace Corporation". But the entire ground support
facilities and systems required by these satellites were developed and fabricated in India.
Four satellites have been launched so far under the INSAT series. These are INSAT-IA;
INSAT- IB; INSAT-IC and INSAT-ID. The first satellite of this series INSAT-IA was
launched on 4th September 1982 but it failed in its mission. The second satellite of this
series called INSAT-IB was launched successfully on 30th August 1983 with the help of
US space-shuttle. This satellite functioned extremely well for more than five years and It
IS still functioning. The successful launchmg of INSAT-IB satellite has paved the way for
revolutionisin, telecommunications, television and radio broadcasting and weather
forecasting in India.
The INSAT-IC satellite was launched to replace INSAT-IB, but it was unsuccessful. The
fourth satellite of this series, INSAT-ID was put into a geostationary orbit around the
earth in June 1990 and it is functioning normally. The first Indian built satellite of the
INSAT series called INSAT-2A was launched successfully on 23- July 1992. This satellite
was launched from Kourou in French Guyana with the help of Ariane Rooket, The
lNSAT-2B satellite was launched on 23rd July 1993 and INSAT-2C Satellite was
launched on 7th December 1995. Both these satellites have been successful in their
mission.

The First Indian Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV_3)

All the satellites disused so far were launched in collaboration with some of the advanced
countries by utilizing their launch vehicles (or rockets). But the work on developing
India's own satellite launch vehicle was also going on simultaneously. The first Indian
satellite
launch vehicle was SLV-3 which was launched in August 1979 but it was unsuccessful
(SLV = Satellite Launch Vehicle). The first success in the launching of an indigenously
developed Indian satellite was achieved on 18th July 1980. The launch vehicle for
carrying this satellite was a four-stage rocket SLV-3 which put a 35 kg satellite named
Rohini into an orbit around the earth. The orbit of Rohini satellite had an apogee of 900
km and a perigee of 300 km. The main Purpose of launching this Rohini satellite was to
test the working of the fourth stage of the SLV-3 1aunch vehicle (or rocket). A total of
four satellites were launched in Rohini series. The launching of third Rohini satellite was
however unsuccessful but the fourth Rohini satellite was launched successfully on 17th
April l983.

Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV)

After launching the Rohini series `Stretched Rohini Satellites were developed (SROSS)
in a series.The historic event of launching an Indian satellite in an Indian launch vehicle
took place on 10th July 1992 when SROSS- 3 satellite was launched into space with the
help of ASLV- D3 launch vehicle. And then followed Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and
geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle

Satellite

A satellite is a celestial object which revolves round a planet in circular path or elliptical
path. For example, the moon revolves around the earth, so moon is a satellite of the earth.
The satellites are of two types: natural satellites and man-made satellites (or artificial
satellites). The moon is a natural satellite of the earth, these days, however, the term
satellite is used for man-made satellites (or artificial satellites) which keep on revolving
around the earth.
An example of man-made satellite (or artificial earth satellite) is INSAT-IB. The satellites
revolve around the earth in a definite path. The closed path of a satellite around the earth
is called its orbit. The orbit of a satellite may be circular or elliptical in shape.
The various characteristics which define the orbit of a satellite around the earth are --
(i) Apogee
(ii) Perigee, and
(iii) Inclination

(i) Apogee is the farthest point from the earth on the orbit, of a satellite.

(ii) Perigee is the nearest point from the earth on the orbit of a satellite.

(iii) The inclination of the orbit of a satellite is the angle by the orbit of the satellite with
the equator of the earth.

History of Space Exploration

You must know in detail the process of man’s achievements to unfold the secrets of space
through the times, which has each time enhanced his experience to probe further!

1.Man’s very first experiment in the space!

The first step into space for the exploration of outer space was taken on 4th October 1957
when the erstwhile Soviet Union (USSR) successfully launched the first man-made
satellite "Sputnik-I" into space (Sputnik means fellow traveller). This first satellite
weighed about 84 kilograms. Sputnik-I satellite had an orbit with an apogee of 941
kilometers and perigee of 227 kilometres.Sputnik-I was launched to carry out studies as a
part of the International Geographical Year. The United States of America (USA) also
followed the Soviet Union and launched their first spacecraft called "Explorer" after a
few months, which weighed only a few kilograms. Since then space technology has made
very rapid progress. The satellites or other space-probes (called "payloads") have grown
many times in size and weight and their functions have become more and more complex
and diverse.

2. This tells a sad story of dog called Laika who dies in space!

After a few weeks of the launching of Sputnik-I satellite, the erstwhile Soviet Union
launched another satellite named Sputnik-II. The Sputnik-II satellite carried a dog named
"Laika" into theouter space for the first time. The weight of this satellite was 500
kilograms. While the Laika dog was revolving around the earth in Sputnik-1I satellite, its
blood pressure, heart-beat and temperature were monitored for eight days continuously.

After this the Laika dog was allowed to die in space because the technique to bring it
back to earth safely had not been developed at that time. But the data collected by
Sputnik-II satellite which took a dog into outer space, provided vital information, which
paved the way for sending the first man into outer space.

3. After the first un-manned space flight of Sputnik-I, it took nearly four years time to
send the first man into space. The first man to go into space was Yuri Gagarin of the
erstwhile Soviet Union (USSR). The name of space-craft which took Yuri Gagarin into
space was Vostok-I which was launched on 12th April 1961. Yuri Gagarin completed a
single revolution around the earth on 12th April 1961 in his spacecraft Vostok-I. After
a few days of Yuri Gagarin's flight, America also sent its first man into space. In this
way, Alan Shepard became the first American to go into space on 5th May 1961.

4. Only two countries- erstwhile Soviet Union and the United Sates of America were of
the world who had know- how of space technology. Both the countries developed
these technologies independently for various purposes like long distance
communications, meteorological studies, scientific experiments, etc.

And finally the experiments put man on moon. An American spacecraft called Apollo11
took man to the moon on 20th July 1969. Neil Armstrong was the first man to step on the
surface of moon. Edwin Aldrin landed on the moon after another 8 minutes.

5. Establishments of permanent `space stations’ and the development of `space


shuttles’ was another significant event in the space during 1980’s. These space
shuttlers are used to taking astronauts into outer space and bring them back to earth.
And there was yet another important establishment of a permanent observatory in
space and the maiden flight of Voyager II space craft to all the planets of the solar
system. And the progress continues with zeal.

SPACE SCIENCE IN INDIA

Well India never lagged back! The foundation of space research in India was laid in 1961
when the Government of India entrusted the task of developing a programme on space
research to its Department of Atomic Energy. The Department of Atomic Energy set up a
National Committee, which identified two major objectives for India’s space research
programme with objectives--

(i) To utilise space technology for the rapid development of mass communications and
education, especially in the far-flung rural areas.

(ii) To utilise space technology for the timely survey and management of the country's
natural resources (like coal, petroleum, ores, underground water, etc.)
After laying the foundation of space research in India, it was realised that the vast
potential of Space technology can be used for the socio-economic development of
the country only by developing indigenous techniques for placing a satellite in the
earth’s orbit. In order to boost the technological efforts to make India self reliant in
the field of space technology, a space commission was set up in 1972 and a separate
Department of Space was established. The Department of Space executes its space
programmes through the Indian Space Research Organization (which is written in
short
as ISRO). The basic requirements for attaining self-sufficiency in the field of space
technology may be categorized as--

(i) To attain self sufficiency in the field of space technology, it was necessary to
develop expertise in planning, designing and fabricating the satellites (or
space-crafts) for various purposes.

(ii) To become self reliant in the field of space technology, it was necessary to
develop suitable launch vehicles (or rockets) which could place the satellites in
earth's orbit.

(iii) To attain self-sufficiency in the field of space technology, it was necessary to


establish "Earth Stations" for launching, tracking, controlling and guiding the
satellites.

(iv) It was also necessary to develop ground facilities for using space technology for
mass communications (like long distance telephone calls and television
broadcasts).

Many organizations and research centers have been established to carry out research and
developmental activities related to the various segments of the space research
programmes. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is one such organisation.
The various tasks, which have been assigned to the Indian Space Research Organisation
(ISRO), are:

(i) To develop the know-how (or expertise) to fabricate the rockets (launch vehicles),
its propellants, its control and guidance systems, and

(ii) To design and fabricate the satellites.

Though the general principles involved in all these aspects of space technology were well
known but the technical know-how had to be learnt with great difficulty by conducting a
large number of researches and experiments. The first Indian rocket RH- 75 was launched
in 1967 from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) near
Thiruvananthapuram. Though this rocket was very small, having a diameter of only 75
mm, but it had all the fundamental features of rocketry in it.

Remote-Sensing

The technique of collecting information about an object from a distance, without making
a physical contact with that object, is called remote sensing. Remote sensing is another
area of
application of space science which is accomplished by the use of remote-sensing
satellites. The remote-sensing satellites are placed in sun-synchronous orbits around the
earth. The orbits of remote sensing satellites are such that the satellite always passes over
a particular area of the earth at approximately the same local time. In other words, it
means that whenever a satellite passes over a particular area of the earth, then the position
of the sun with respect to that area of the earth remains approximately the same.

This arrangement enables the remote sensing satellite to take photographs of a particular
area of the earth with nearly the same illumination every time it passes over that area. The
most significant feature of remote-sensing satellite technology is that it makes possible
the repeated survey of vast areas in a very short time even if the area is otherwise
inaccessible. The photographs and other data collected by Indian remote sensing
satellites, IRS-IA and IRS-IB, have been used for many practical purposes. The important
applications (or uses) of remote-sensing satellites are: Groundwater surveys; Forest
surveys; Preparing wasteland maps; Drought assessment; Estimation of crop yields;
Detection of crop diseases; Survey for detecting coal, oil and ores and Detection of
potential fishing zones of the sea. The remote sensing satellites are also used for doing
"spying work" for military purposes.

Collection of Information about Other Planets and Outer Space

Scientists always want to know more…it is because of the developments in the field of
space science that the scientists have been able to probe (study) all the planets of the solar
system from a close range. For example, the Voyager spacecrafts launched by America
(USA) have transmitted the photographs of all the planets from close range. In fact, the
information collected by these space probes has given us a deep insight into the various
distant planets.

During the course of their space journeys, Voyager spacecrafts have discovered new rings
and moons of the planet "Saturn". The cameras of Voyager spacecrafts have detected four
new moons (or satellites) of the planet "Neptune". It has also discovered two rings around
"Neptune". Similarly, the landing of man on moon has provided a rare opportunity to
connect first hand information about the surface of moon, its structure and composition.
The voluminous data connected through various space probes has enabled the scientists
to understand the origin and structure of solar system and the composition of planets in a
better way.

The various laboratories established in outer space and the Hubble telescope which is
permanently stationed in outer space are providing more and more information about the
various celestial objects. It is hoped that the efforts win enable scientists to solve the
various mysteries of the universe regarding its origin, structure and composition.

It becomes definitely clear now, that man just did not explore into space to unfold the
secrets for an adventure or curiosity to know more, but to also favorably use the outer
space to work for him. So, today all the communication facilities and reaching across the
world just by sitting at home is but for man’s powers extended establishing into the very
outer space!
Indian National Satellites (INSAT)

The First Indian Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3)

Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV)

Application of Space Science

Satellite Communications

Weather Monitoring

Remote Sensing

Collection of Information About Other Planets and Outer Space