Isro’s Journey: From Sociological Programme to Global Player in Space Exploration

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July 20, 2023

Isro’s Journey: From Sociological Programme to Global Player in Space Exploration

Behind Chandrayaan 3's launch: ISRO's moon milestone | The Indian Express

Source: The Indian Express


  • The excitement generated by ISRO’s space launches, including the Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan missions, reflects the significant progress and coming of age of India’s space programme.
  • Despite initial challenges and limited resources, ISRO’s dedication to utilitarian objectives gradually evolved to include space and planetary exploration.
  • Today, India’s space programme is seen as an essential aspect of the country’s rise as a global power. As ISRO embarks on more ambitious missions, it faces the need to showcase its capabilities, adapt to greater scrutiny, and collaborate in the global pursuit of space exploration.

From Sociological Programme to Scientific Endeavor:

  • Initially, ISRO focused on utilitarian goals such as telecommunications, broadcasting, and remote sensing satellites.
  • The agency even employed social scientists to understand communication and engage with people effectively. However, visionary individuals like Vikram Sarabhai and his contemporaries dreamed of making India an active participant in space science and exploration.
  • Discussions for a lunar probe began in the 1980s, leading to the realization of the Chandrayaan mission in 2014.

India’s Evolving Perception in Space Exploration:

  • India’s space programme is no longer considered an expensive hobby of a low-income economy. It is recognized as an integral part of India’s rising global power status.
  • While countries like NASA hold a lead in deep space exploration and Russia has decades of experience in manned missions, India has made notable contributions in lunar exploration.
  • Chandrayaan-1 confirmed the presence of water on the moon, and Chandrayaan-3 aims to explore the lunar polar regions. India’s space programme has joined the global knowledge pool and gained recognition for its achievements.

Importance of Soft Landing Technology:

  • The ability to achieve a soft landing on a planetary body is crucial for ISRO’s future missions. Without this capability, ISRO cannot explore the surface or study the mineralogy of the moon.
  • Chandrayaan-3 represents an essential milestone as it aims to address the failure of Chandrayaan-2. Overcoming the challenges associated with soft landing technology will enable ISRO to progress and undertake further scientific missions to the moon.

Future Missions and Challenges:

  • ISRO has several important missions in the pipeline, including Gaganyaan, India’s first manned mission, as well as missions to observe the Sun and explore Venus.
  • However, the timelines for these missions have been affected by the setback of Chandrayaan-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic. As ISRO enters a new phase of scientific space exploration, it will face increased scrutiny and demands for accountability from the public and international community.

The Transition to a Competitive Environment:

  • As ISRO aims to establish itself as a global player in space exploration, it will inevitably encounter more competition and be evaluated against the best space agencies worldwide.
  • Space exploration has become strategically, economically, and even militarily significant, offering concrete power advantages.
  • To remain relevant, ISRO must swiftly progress and adapt to this new phase, as the future of space exploration is expected to involve extensive collaboration between nations.
  • Collaborative missions and infrastructure in space will require contributions and value from participating countries.

The Conclusion:

  • ISRO’s journey from a sociological programme to a global player in space exploration is marked by remarkable progress and achievements.
  • The agency’s dedication, despite early skepticism, has positioned India as an active participant in lunar exploration and other scientific endeavors.
  • As ISRO moves forward, it must address technological challenges, recover from setbacks, and prepare for a more competitive and collaborative environment.
  • By doing so, ISRO can continue contributing to the global knowledge pool and solidify its position as a respected space agency on the international stage.

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Isro’s Journey: From Sociological Programme to Global Player in Space Exploration | Vaid ICS Institute