ISRO’s journey from Aryabhata to its 100th Indian satellite

Up, up, and away.
Up, up, and away.
Image: EPA
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Early on Jan. 12, over four decades after the Aryabhata was put in space, ISRO marked the successful launch of its 100th Indian-made satellite from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, the space agency’s workhorse, carried 28 other satellites from Canada, Finland, France, South Korea, the UK, and the US.

India’s space programme is one of the world’s most cost-effective. In 2014, for instance, ISRO’s successful Mars Orbiter Mission, Mangalyaan, made headlines for costing a fraction of what Hollywood spent on the science fiction space thriller Gravity. 

And despite several glitches and failures over the years, most recently in August 2017 when a faulty heat shield prevented the launch of a navigation satellite, ISRO has persevered, gradually increasing its satellite count and even carrying foreign satellites. In February 2017, it set a world record by launching 104 satellites with a single rocket.

However, 2018 is likely to be ISRO’s most ambitious year yet. India’s space programme has said it plans to launch one rocket every month this year, and it’s also aiming for the moon once again: The second unmanned moon mission, Chandrayaan 2, is set for a March launch.