20 November 1967
India’s first indigenously developed rocket RH-75 was launched.
On 20 November 1967, the RH-75, the first rocket developed in India was launched from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS).
- The RH-75 is a rocket in the “Rohini” series of sounding rockets.
- RH-75 was developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The first rocket in this series was launched in 1963. The first and second rockets were imported from Russia and France respectively. Thus, 1963 marked the beginning of the Indian space programme.
- RH-75 (ROHINI-75) was the first rocket to be developed by ISRO and is thus a truly Indian rocket. It was launched from TERLS at Thumba in Kerala on November 20, 1967. Thumba is close to the magnetic equator and ideal for this programme.
- RH-75 had a diameter of 75 mm and hence the name. It weighed 32 kg and had a height of 1.5 m. It was a one-stage rocket. It flew 15 times between November 1967 and September 1968.
- In 1975, all sounding rocket activities were consolidated under one programme, the Rohini Sounding Rocket (RSR) Programme.
- After RH-75, ISRO developed and launched many sounding rockets under the Rohini series like RH-100, RH-200, RH-300-Mk-II and RH-560-MK-II. The number in the name of the rocket indicates its thickness or diameter.
- Till date, 1545 RH-200 rockets have been launched. On 15 July, 2015, the 100th consecutive successful RH-200 rocket was launched.
- The sounding rocket programme was the basis of all future launch vehicle technology that the ISRO has built. The research in the sounding rocket domain has been led by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSCC) at Thiruvananthapuram.
- The purpose of the sounding rockets is to probe the upper atmospheric regions and for space research. They also act as cheap platforms for testing or proving prototypes of new components or subsystems that are intended for use in satellites and launch vehicles. They have also been used to carry out metrological and scientific experiments by scientists both Indian and foreign.
- The launch of the RH-75 was a truly remarkable feat for a developing country. It proved the capabilities of the Indian space scientists and researchers. The Indian space programme has truly come a long way from the small ‘toy rocket’ RH-75 to Mangalyaan, the Mars Orbitter.
Also on This Day
1859: Death of the Governor of Bombay, Mountstuart Elphinstone. 1981: ISRO launched the BHASKARA-II, a low orbit observation satellite from Russia.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.