This Day in History (19-Apr-1975) – India’s first satellite successfully launched into a near earth orbit

The Indian space Programme began in 1962. In 1969 the Indian space Research Organizatiion (ISRO) was set up with headquarters in Banglore for the purpose of rapid development in space technology and its application. In 1972, space commission was established.  Aryabhata, India’s first satellite, named after a ancient Indian mathematician (5th century AD), was successfully launched into a near earth orbit on 19 April 1975, from a USSR cosmodrome Kapustin Yar using a Cosmos-3M launch vehicle. The spacecraft was a 26-sided polygon 1.4 m in diameter and weight of 358 kg. All faces (except the top and bottom) were covered with solar cells. The launch came from an agreement between India and the Soviet Union and signed in 1972. It allowed the USSR to use India ports for tracking ships and launching vessels in return for launching India satellites. The launch of the satellite proved India’s indigenous capability in satellite technology. The satellite also included three scientific experiments. The launch of the satellite created  the expert scientists and engineers who contributed significantly in launching India’s first mission to Moon, Chandrayaan-I.

Aryabhatta was expected to perform three scientific experiments in the areas of X-ray astronomy, Solar neutrons and gamma rays and Aeronomy. However, ISRO was forced to switch-off these three experiments due to problems with the power supply. Some of the experiments successfully conducted were Voice transmission experiment and Transmission of weather data.

A ground station was also set up at Sriharikota near Madras for command and tracking purpose. The satellite was fabricated at HAL, Bangalore. The most of the components used to build the satellite were imported. However, ISRO did gain valuable experience in thermal and power control systems, stabilization and attitude sensor systems, orbiter prediction, telemetry, tracking and telecommand through in-orbit operation and experiment. It was in the orbit till 11 April, 1981.




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