India is on the verge of creating history by landing a rover on the lunar surface on September 7, a little after midnight. Launched on July 22, Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Chandrayaan-2, which comprises an orbiter, a lander named Vikram and a six-wheeled rover named Pragyaan, will attempt to land on the surface of the Moon. If India successfully touches down lander Vikram intact, it will become only the fourth country to do so after the US, Russia and China and ISRO will leave behind the space agencies of several developed nations such as UK, France, Germany and Italy.
The Indian space agency’s journey to the Moon has been no less than a fascinating story of the hard work, dedication and grit to achieve new heights. From the formation of Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) to transforming into one of the world’s top space agencies, below is the timeline of ISRO journey to greatness:
February 16, 1962: Formation of INCOSPAR by the Jawaharlal Nehru government
Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) formed by the Department of Atomic Energy under then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s tenure and work on establishing Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) started.
November 21, 1963: First sounding rocket launch
In less than two years of its formation, the INCOSPAR launched its first sounding rocket from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS).
January 1, 1965: SSTC established
While the country was on the brink of war with Pakistan due to the latter’s provoking activities in Jammu and Kashmir, the government didn’t let that become a hurdle in fulfilling the dreams of Nehru and space researcher Vikram Sarabhai. After establishing a rocket launching station, the government launched Space Science & Technology Centre (SSTC) in Thumba in 1965.
January 1, 1967: Satellite Telecommunication Earth Station
The Indian government launched the Satellite Telecommunication Earth Station in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad.
August 15, 1969: INCOSPAR becomes ISRO
INCOSPAR grew and become Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). With new name, the agency started its experiments in Air-borne remote sensing
April 1, 1975: Becomes Government Organisation
The then Indira Gandhi government decided to make ISRO a government organisation to increase its funding and boost its productivity.
Dis-assembled mode tests of Aryabhatta (Photo: ISRO)
April 19, 1975: Aryabhata Launch
Years of hard work and research paid off as ISRO launched first Indian satellite, Aryabhata on April 19, 1975. The satellite was launched from Kapustin Yar, a Russian rocket launch and development site in Astrakhan Oblast using a Kosmos-3M launch vehicle.
January 1, 1977 — January 1, 1979
Satellite Telecommunication Experiments Project (STEP), a joint project of ISRO-and Post and Telegraphs Department (P&T) using the Franco-German Symphonie satellite during 1977-79.
June 7, 1979: Bhaskara-I Launch
Bhaskara-I, an experimental satellite for earth observations, launched.
August 10, 1979: SLV -3 Launch
First Experimental launch of SLV-3 with Rohini Technology Payload on board (August 10, 1979). Satellite could not be placed in orbit.
July 18, 1980: Rohini Satellite Completes Mission Launch
Second Experimental launch of SLV-3, Rohini satellite successfully placed in orbit. (July 18, 1980).
January 1, 1981: SLV-3 Launch
First developmental launch of SLV-3.
APPLE satellite under testing on a makeshift test facility using a bullock cart. (Photo: ISRO)
June 19, 1981: APPLE Launch
APPLE, an experimental geo-stationary communication satellite successfully launched.
March 24, 1987: SROSS-1 Launch
First developmental launch of ASLV with SROSS-1 satellite on board (March 24, 1987). Satellite could not be placed in orbit.
March 17, 1988: IRS-1A Launch
Launch of first operational Indian Remote Sensing Satellite, IRS-1A (March 17, 1988).
September 20, 1993: IRS-1E Launch
First developmental launch of PSLV with IRS-1E on board (September 20, 1993). Satellite could not be placed in orbit.
March 21, 1996: IRS-P3 Launch
Third developmental launch of PSLV with IRS-P3, on board (March 21, 1996). Satellite placed in polar sunsynchronous orbit.
September 29, 1997: IRS-1D Launch
First operational launch of PSLV with IRS-1D on board (September 29, 1997). Satellite placed in orbit.
May 26, 1999: PSLV-C2/IRS-P4 Launch
Indian Remote Sensing Satellite, IRS-P4 (OCEANSAT), launched by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C2) along with Korean KITSAT-3 and German DLR-TUBSAT from Sriharikota.
April 18, 2001: GSLV-D1 / GSAT-1 Launch
The first developmental launch of GSLV-D1 with GSAT-1 on board from Sriharikota.
October 22, 2001: PSLV-C3 / TES Launch
ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C3, successfully launched three satellites -- Technology Experiment Satellite (TES) of ISRO, BIRD of Germany and PROBA of Belgium - into their intended orbits.
September 12, 2002: PSLV-C4 /KALPANA-1 Launch
ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C4, successfully launched KALPANA-1 satellite from Sriharikota.
October 17, 2003: PSLV-C5 /RESOURCESAT-1 Launch
ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C5, successfully launched RESOURCESAT-1(IRS-P6) satellite from Sriharikota.
September 20, 2004: GSLV-F01 / EDUSAT(GSAT-3) Launch
The first operational flight of GSLV (GSLV-F01) successfully launched EDUSAT from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota.
May 5, 2005: PSLV-C6/CARTOSAT-1/HAMSAT Mission Launch
ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C6, successfully launched CARTOSAT-1 and HAMSAT satellites from Sriharikota.
January 10, 2007: PSLV-C7/CARTOSAT-2/SRE-1 Mission Launch
ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C7 successfully launches four satellites - India’s CARTOSAT-2 and Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE-1) and Indonesia’s LAPAN-TUBSAT and Argentina’s PEHUENSAT-1.
March 12, 2007: INSAT-4B Launch
Successful launch of INSAT-4B by Ariane-5 from Kourou French Guyana.
April 23, 2007: PSLV-C8 Launch
ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C8, successfully launched Italian astronomical satellite, AGILE from Sriharikota.
September 2, 2007: GSLV-F04 / INSAT-4CR Launch
Successful launch of GSLV (GSLV-F04) with INSAT-4CR on board from SDSC SHAR.
January 21, 2008: PSLV-C10 Launch
PSLV-C10 successfully launches TECSAR satellite under a commercial contract with Antrix Corporation (January 21, 2008).
April 28, 2008: PSLV-C9/CARTOSAT-2A Mission Launch
PSLV-C9 successfully launches CARTOSAT-2A, IMS-1 and 8 foreign nano satellites from Sriharikota (April 28, 2008).
October 22, 2008: Launch of Chandrayaan-1
PSLV-C11 successfully launches CHANDRAYAAN-1 from Sriharikota (October 22, 2008).
November 27, 2010: HYLAS Launch
Successful launch of advanced communication satellite HYLAS (Highly Adaptable Satellite), built by ISRO on a commercial basis in partnership with EADS-Astrium of Europe, by Ariane-5 V198 from Kourou French Guiana.
November 5, 2013: Mangalyaan launch
PSLV - C25 successfully launches Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft from Sriharikota.
December 18, 2014: LVM3-X / CARE Mission
Experimental suborbital flight of India's next generation launch vehicle that tested the vehicle for the crucial atmospheric phase of its flight. The payload - CARE Module – re-entered the atmosphere and was slowed using parachutes before splashdown in Andaman Sea.
September 28, 2015: PSLV-C30/ASTROSAT Launch
PSLV-C30 launched 1513 kg ASTROSAT into the orbit. Along with ASTROSAT, six satellites from international customers - 76 kg LAPAN-A2 of Indonesia, 14 kg NLS-14 (Ev9) of Canada and four identical LEMUR satellites of USA together weighing about 28 kg – were launched in this PSLV flight.
May 23, 2016: RLV-TD Launch
Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) Launch
ISRO launched record 104 satellites simultaneously on one rocket. (Photo: ISRO)
February 14, 2017: Record 104 satellites launch
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched 104 satellites into orbit aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on Feb. 14, 2017, setting a new record for the most satellites launched simultaneously on one rocket.
August 31, 2017: PSLV-C39/IRNSS-1H Mission
PSLV-C39 Flight Carrying IRNSS-1H Navigation Satellite Unsuccessful
July 5, 2018
Successful flight testing of crew escape system - technology demonstrator
September 16, 2018
PSLV-C42 successfully launches NovaSAR & S1-4 in Sun Synchronous Orbit
December 5, 2018
GSAT-11 Mission - India’s heaviest Communication Satellite
July 22, 2019
GSLV-Mk III - M1 / Chandrayaan-2 Mission