UPSC Exam Preparation: This Day in History – Mar 17

17 March 1988

First Indian remote sensing satellite launched.

What happened?

On 17 March 1988, the first indigenous remote sensing satellite developed by ISRO, the IRS-1A was launched by a Soviet launch vehicle Vostok.


  • The Indian Remote Sensing Satellite-1A or the IRS-1A was launched on March 17th, 1988 from a Soviet cosmodrome, the Baikonur Cosmodrome currently in Kazakhstan. It was launched at about 12:00 AM Indian Standard Time.
  • The satellite was the first Indian-made remote sensing satellite developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • The launch vehicle was a Russian Vostok. It was launched into a sun-synchronous polar orbit.
  • The satellite’s mission was operational remote sensing and was to be used for land-based applications in areas like agriculture, geology, forestry and hydrology.
  • It had a swath width of 140 km while passing over the country.
  • The total weight of the satellite was 975 kg. Its payload consisted of three solid state push broom cameras, LISS-1 with a resolution of 72.5 m; LISS-2A; and LISS-2B with a resolution of 36.25 m. LISS stands for Linear Imaging Self-Scanning System. The onboard power was 600 Watts.
  • The push broom sensors operated over the spectral bands: 0.45-0.52, 0.52-0.59, 0.62-0.68, and 0.77-0.86 micrometre.
  • Its orbit was 904 km above the earth. The orbit inclination was 99.01 degrees with a repeat cycle of 22 days.
  • It had a perigee of 863 km and an apogee of 917 km.
  • IRS-1A was an earth observation satellite developed and owned by ISRO.
  • The satellite’s communication parameters were S-band, X-band and VHF.
  • It had four reaction wheels and magnetic torquers.
  • It used monopropellant Hydrazine with sixteen 1 Newton thrusters for propellants.
  • Local passing time over the equator was fixed at about 10:00 AM.
  • The mission was completed in July 1996 after eight years and four months.
Also on this day
1959: The Dalai Lama escaped to India from Tibet.


See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.