Know about Indian Spacecraft for Science and Technology


In the science and technology section in the UPSC syllabus, the Indian space program and Indian satellites are important for the IAS exam. In this article, you will read about the Indian space program especially satellites and space missions.

  1. Scientific satellites


Indian space programme includes research in zones like earth sciences, astrophysics, astronomy, atmospheric sciences and theoretical physics. A sequence of sounding rockets is accessible for atmospheric research. A number of scientific appliances have been flown on satellites principally to direct extraterrestrial X-ray and gamma-ray rupture.

Indian Space Program UPSC

Mars Orbiter Mission: It is the first interplanetary operation of India to Mars.

AstroSat: It is the first committed Indian astronomy mission intended at studying extraterrestrial sources in X-ray, optical and UV spectral bands together.

Chandrayaan-1: This is country’s primary undertaking to Moon. The spacecraft was orbiting around the Moon at an elevation of 100 km from the lunar surface for mineralogical, chemical, and photo-geologic mapping of the Moon.

Chandrayaan-2: This mission will be a superior version of the Chandrayaan-1. It is constructed as a two unit system consist of a Lander Craft module (LC) and Orbiter Craft module (OC)  carrying the Rover.


  1. Communication satellites


The INSAT (Indian National Satellite) was established in 1983 with the commissioning of INSAT-1B.  This has commenced a drastic revolution in India’s communications segment and continued the same later. This system is one of the major domestic communication satellite systems in Asia-Pacific area with nine equipped communication satellites placed in Geo-stationary orbit. The INSAT system with more than 200 transponders in the C, Extended C and Ku-bands give services to:

  • Television broadcasting,
  • Telecommunications
  • Satellite newsgathering
  • Weather forecasting
  • Disaster warning
  • Search and Rescue operations

The GSAT-18 joins the group of INSAT System comprising 14 operational satellites:

  • INSAT-3A
  • INSAT-3C
  • INSAT-4A
  • INSAT-4B
  • GSAT-6
  • GSAT-7
  • GSAT-8
  • GSAT- 10
  • GSAT- 12
  • GSAT- 14
  • GSAT- 15
  • GSAT-16


  1. Earth observation satellites


ISRO launched its first earth observation satellite-IRS-1A in 1988. After that, it has launched a lot of operational remote sensing satellites. India has one of the largest constellations of remote sensing satellites in operation.

 Varieties of gadgets have been flown onboard these satellites to give essential information in a diversified spatial, spectral and sequential resolutions to cater different requirements in the nation and for worldwide utilization. The information from these satellites is used for numerous purpose covering agriculture, environment, forestry, ocean resources, urban and rural development, mineral exploration, and disaster management. At present, 13 satellites are operational in Sun-synchronous orbit. They are:

  • RISAT-1 and RISAT-2
  • Megha- Tropiques

There are 4 satellites in geostationary orbit. They are

  • INSAT-3D
  • Kalpana
  • INSAT 3A
  • INSAT -3DR


  1. Navigation satellites


The Satellite Navigation service is a budding satellite, based system with commercial and strategic applications. ISRO is devoted to contributing the satellite-based Navigation services to cater the rising demands of the Civil Aviation necessities and to cater the client requirements of the positioning, navigation, and timing based on the independent satellite navigation system. The ISRO and Airport Authority of India are engaged in establishing the GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) system, to meet the Civil Aviation requirements. The ISRO has developed Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) to cater the needs like positioning, navigation and timing services based on the indigenous system.


  1. Small satellites


The small satellite mission is envisioning providing platform for stand-alone payloads for earth imaging and science missions within a quick spin time. Indian Mini Satellite -1 (IMS-1) and Indian Mini Satellite -2 (IMS-2) Bus are two major missions in this segment.


  1. Experimental satellites


The Indian Space Research Organization has launched several small satellites chiefly for the experimental and research purposes. This experiment consists of Orbit Controls, Remote Sensing, Payload Development, Atmospheric Studies and Recovery technology etc.


  1. Student satellites


The country’s premier institution for space research has influenced the educational institutions by its innovative activities. It invites the ideas of Indian youth for the enhancement of technology. Proficient Universities and establishments can venture into space technology on-orbit under the supervision and support of ISRO.

Previous Year UPSC Question

  1. With reference to ‘Astrosat’, the astronomical observatory launched by India, which of the following statements is/are correct? (UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2016)
  2. Other than USA and Russia, India is the only country to have launched a similar observatory into space.
  3. Astrosat is a 2000kg satellite placed in an orbit at 1650km above the surface of the Earth.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer. D

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