19 April 1975
Launch of satellite ‘Aryabhatta’
India’s first indigenously-built satellite ‘Aryabhatta’ was launched on 19 April, 1975.
- The Aryabhatta was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It was the country’s first artificial satellite. It was named after Aryabhatta, the 5th-century Indian mathematician and astronomer.
- It was launched using a C-1 Intercosmos launch vehicle from Kapustin Yar, which is a Russian rocket launch and development site.
- There was an agreement between India and the USSR as per which the USSR could utilise Indian ports to track ships and launch vessels in return for which the USSR would launch Indian satellites. The agreement was signed in 1972 when UR Rao was the Chairman of ISRO.
- The satellite had a launch mass of 360 kg with a power of 46 watts. Its orbit was for 96.46 minutes with an apogee of 619 km and a perigee of 563 km.
- The purpose of the mission was research in astrophysics such as conducting experiments in X-ray astronomy, solar physics and aeronomics.
- The satellite had a polyhedron shape with 26 sides. All except the top and bottom sides were covered with solar cells.
- Aryabhatta’s data receiving station was in Bangalore.
- There was a power failure after the satellite completed 60 orbits in four days. This led to a loss of signal from the satellite and the last date of contact was 24 April 1975. However, the spacecraft mainframe was active until March 1981.
- The satellite came back to the earth’s atmosphere on 10 February 1992 giving it an orbital life of almost 17 years.
- The Aryabhatta was an experimental mission intended to give Indians experience in taking the country’s space mission forward.
- The ISRO and India’s space program has come a long way since 1975. Cut to 2018 when ISRO launched India’s 100th satellite along with 30 others (28 were from different countries) showcasing India’s capabilities and resourcefulness in this domain.
- The ISRO has been lauded in recent times for launching successful missions at a fraction of the cost incurred by organisations like NASA.
- The Indian space program has a second Moon and Mars missions apart from a mission to study the Sun in the offing.
Also on this day
1955: Death of Jim Corbett, British conservationist, author and naturalist.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.