Fact Sheet




    The Indian Space Programme, since its inception, has been guided by a Vision, which laid emphasis on the application of space technology for finding solutions to the problems of man and society. Self-reliance in space technology has been an important target of the programme. Significant achievements have been made in the country in the area of space technology. India was one of the few countries to enter the space club when Aryabhatta the first indigenously built Satellite was put in orbit. The major milestones in space programme are tabulated below:



Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) Formed BY THE Department of Atomic Energy and work on establishing Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) Near Trivandrum began.


First sounding rocket launched from TERLS (November 21, 1963).


Space Science & Technology Centre (SSTC) established in Thumba.


Satellite Telecommunication Earth Station set up at Ahmedabad.


Space Commission and Department of Space set up.


First Indian Satellite, Aryabhata, launched (April 19, 1975).


Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) conducted.


Bhaskara-1, an experimental satellite launched.


First Experimental launch of SLV-3 with Rohini satellite on board failed.


Second Experimental launch of SLV-3 Rohini satellite successfully placed in orbit.


-APPLE, an experimental geo-stationary communication satellite successfully launched.

-Bhaskara-II launched (November)


INSAT-1A launched (April), Deactivated in September.


-Second launch of SLV-3. RS-D2 placed in orbit.

-INSAT-1B launched.


Indo-Soviet manned space mission (April).


ASLV with SROSS-1 satellite on board launched.


-First Indian Remote Sensing Satellite, IRS-1A launched.

-INSAT-1C launched (July). Abandoned in November.


INSAT-1D launched successfully.


Launch of second operational Remote Sensing satellite, IRS-1B (August).


-Third developmental launch of ASLV with SROCC-C on board (May). Satellite placed in orbit.

-First indigenously built satellite INSAT-2A launched successfully.


-INSAT-2B launched in July successfully.

-First developmental launch of PSLV with IRS-1E on board fails.


-Fourth developmental launch of ASLV successful (May).

-Second developmental launch of PSLV with IRS-P2 successfully (October).


-INSAT-2C launched in December.

-Third operational Indian Remote Sensing Satellite launched.


Third developmental launch of PSLV with IRS-P3 successful (March).


-INSAT-2D launched in June becomes inoperational in October.

-ARABSAT-1C, since renamed INSAT-2DT, acquired in November.

-First operational launch of PSLV with IRS-1D successful (September).


INSAT system capacity augmented with the readiness of INSAt.2DT acquired from ARABSAT ( January, 1998).


INSAT 2E the last satellite in the multi-purpose INSAT-2 series, launched by Ariane from Kourou French Guyana (April 3, 1999). Indian Remote Sensing Satellite, IRS-P4 (OCEANSAT), LAUNCHED BY Polar Satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-C2) along with Korean KITSAT-3 and German DCR-TUBSAT from Sriharikota (May 26, 1999).

2000 (till May)

INSAT 3B was launched on 22nd March, 2000 and was dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister on 24th May, 2000.

    The launch of INSAT-2E and the Indian Remote Sensing satellite, IRS-P4 (OCEANSAT) along with two other satellites, KITSAT-3 of Republic of Korea and DLR-TUBSAT of Germany on board the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV, are the major landmarks which has been achieved under the Indian space programme. They have not only enhanced the space services to the nation in the areas of telecommunication, television broadcasting, meteorology, disaster management and resources survey, but also, contributed towards making significant inroads into the competitive international space services market. Besides providing telecommunication and television services, a channel of INSAT is being used for satellite based training and developmental communication which is becoming more popular and several agencies are using the system for interactive education and training. INSAT-2E, the last satellite of the second-generation INSAT-2 series is providing the intended telecommunication and television services as well as meteorological imaging. INSAT is one of the largest domestic satellite communication systems in the world today comprising five satellites, INSAT-2B, INSAT-2C, INSAT-2E, INSAT-2DTand INSAT-3B. The INSAT services will be enhanced further through the launch of four satellites in the INSAT-3 series-INSAT-3A and INSAT-3C to 3E. INSAT-3B has already been launched.

    Indian Remote Sensing satellite (IRS) system, now comprising five satellites IRS-1B, IRS-1C, IRS-1D, IRS-P3 and OCEANSAT, forms the largest constellation of remote sensing satellites in the world offering a variety of data in different spectral bands and various spatial resolutions. The launch of OCEANSAT has opened up new vistas for ocean remote sensing. The planned launch of RESOURCESAT AND CARTOSAT-1 in the coming years will further enhance the IRS system capabilities. The combination of INSAT and IRS systems has become an important element of the national infrastructure for meeting the growing demands for communications, broadcasting, resources monitoring and disaster management.


    The Indian National Satellite System is a multi-purpose satellite system for telecommunication, television broadcasting, meteorology, and disaster warning. The service is now provided by five satellites, INSAT-1D, INSAT-2A, INSAT-2B, INSAT-2C, and another satellite, INSAT-2DT, that has been acquired from ARABSAT organisation because of failure of INSAT-2D. The communication payload on board the first two satellites in INSAT-2 series, INSAT-2A, and INSAT-2B, comprise of twelve C band transponders, six extended C band transponders and two high power S-band transponders. The meteorological payload includes a Very High Resolution Radiometer (VHRR) with 2Kkm resolution in the visible band and 8Kkm in the Infrared bands, and a transponder for meteorological data relay. This satellite also incorporates a transponder for receiving distress alert signals for search and rescue missions. INSAT-2C and 2D have in addition Ku transponders for business communication and extended C band transponders to enable TV programmmes outreach beyond the Indian boundaries.



    A total of 450 telecommunication terminals of various sizes and capabilities are operating in the INSAT telecommunications network providing 5,103 two-way speech circuits or equivalent on over 166 routes. Over 400 additional earth stations are under various stages of implementation in the DOT network. In the National Informatics Centre Network (NICNET), there are over 800 microterminals. About 386 VSATs are operating under the Remote Area Business Management Network. Under Remote Rural Area Communications using MCPC VSATs, 245 VSATs are operational in the DOT network. Another 150 VSATs are under installation.

Mobile Satellite Services

    With the launch of INSAT-2C in December 1995, an S-band Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) has been added to the INSAT system. The following two classes of services on an experimental basis were identified for MSS:

    Mobile telephony, which consists of low bit rate, encoded voice, data and fax services using demand assigned SCPC channels, with mobile and portable terminals.

    Reporting System: This consists of low bit rate one-way reporting service using shared channels with portable and held terminals.


    INSAT has been a major catalyst for the rapid expansion of television coverage in India. Satellite television now covers over 65 per cent of the Indian landmass and over 80 per cent of the Indian population. 22 TV channels are operating through the INSAT C-band transponders

Educational TV

    Educational TV (ETV) is one of the priority areas for Doordarshan. Curriculum based programmes are produced with involvement of State educational administrators and teachers and they are telecast from Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. Satellite based enrichment programmes for school children are produced by the State Institutes of Educational Technology (Marathi at Pune, Gujarati at Ahmedabad, Oriya at Bhubaneshwar and Telugu at Hyderabad) which arerelayed by all transmitters in the respective States. Hindi programmes are produced at State Insitutes of Educational Technology at Delhi, Lucknow and Patna which are relayed by all transmitters in Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Satellite- Based Training and Development Communications Channel (TDCC)

    The Training and Development Communication Channel on INSAT is being extensively used for training primary teachers, Panchayati Raj elected representatives, Anganwadi workers associated with women and child development, watershed development functionaries, health and family welfare functionaries, animal husbandry and co-operative members, students of open universities, other educational institutions and banks. At present there are 515 receive terminals set up by user agencies and another 2000 terminals are proposed to be installed in Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa.

Jhabua Development Communications Project (JDCP)

    JDCP started on November 1, 1996. It is a demonstration towards setting up an operational satellite-based broadcast and interactive network for developmental communication and training. Under JDCP, 150 Direct Reception Systems (DRSs) and 12 talk-back terminals have been installed in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh. Inter-active training programmes are conducted during the day. More than 2,000 programmes have been produced and broadcast in JDCP network. The impact of JDCP project is being evaluated by a reputed agency. Preliminary results show significant knowledge gain among the viewers. Based on the encouraging results, JDCP is being expanded to about 1,000 villages in Jhabua, Dhar and Barwani. The network is also planned to be converted into digital TV technology.

Radio Networking (RN)

    Radio Networking through INSAT has been designed to provide a reliable high fidelity programme channels for national as well as regional networking of radio programmes. Presently nearly 195 stations of All India Radio are utilizing INSAT 1D and INSAT 2A for distribution of radio programmes throughout the country. Interactive exchange of programmes also takes place between any two or more uplink stations. There are 41 RN channels at present 33 operating in S-band and 8 in C-band. Four transportable uplink terminals have been acquired by AIR for coverage of events taking place at remote locations and for relay of programmes directly from the spot via INSAT. AIR has also acquired a Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) RN terminal, which is capable of uplinking Compact Disc (CD) quality music channel from any remote location to a central place such as Delhi.


    The meteorological imagery date of INSAT is processed and disseminated by the INSAT Meteorological Data Processing System (IMDPS) of India Meteorological Department (IMD) and upper winds, sea surface temperature and precipitation index data products are regularly generated. The 0600 hours GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) VHRR image-derived wind data are put on the Global Telecommunications System (GTS) of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

    INSAT VHRR imageries are used by Doordarshan during news coverage and by newspapers as part of weather reporting. At present, repetitive and synoptic weather system observations over the Indian Ocean from Geostationary orbit are available only from INSAT system.

    In the selected cyclone-prone coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh, north Tamil Nadu, Orissa, West Bengal and Gujarat, 250 Cyclone Warning Dissemination System (CWDS) receivers have been installed with uplink from Chennai, Mumbai and Calcutta.

Satellite Navigation

    A detailed study on the implementation of a Wide Area Differential GPS Augmentation System over the Indian Airspace has been carried out together with the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

Satellite Aided Search and Rescue (SAS&R) Distress Alert Service

    As a member of the international SARSAT program for providing distress alert and position location service through low-earth orbiting search and rescue satellite system, India has set up Local User Terminals (LUT) at Bangalore and Lucknow with the Mission Control Centre (MCC) at Bangalore. They are providing coverage to a large part of the Indian Ocean region rendering distress alert services to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Kenya, Maldives, Nepal, Seychelles, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Zanzibar.

    Two more countries are being added to the impressive list of India soon, for the supply of data from its Remote Sensing Satellites. The ground stations in Saudi Arabia and Equador are almost ready for receiving the IRS-data. Above all, Australia and a few more countries in Latin America and Europe are also in the Queue for buying Data from Indian Remote Sensing Satellites. The launching of operational satellites like IRS-ID by India’s own launch vehicle PSLV-C1 has also paved the way for putting into orbit mission-specific remote sensing satellites such as IRS-P4 (OCEANSAT) IRS-P5 (CARTOSAT) and IRS-P6 (RESOURCESAT) etc., in due course.

IRS System

    The Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites are the main-stay of National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS), for which Department of Space (DOS) is the nodal agency, providing operational remote sensing data services. The IRS system was operationalised with the commissioning of IRS-1A in March 1988. An identical satellite, IRS-1B, was launched in August 1991 to continue the services from IRS. The IRS system has been further enhanced by IRS-C, IRS-P2, IRS-P3, IRS-P4, IRS-P5 and IRS-P6.

Remote Sensing Application

    The progress made in the application of remote sensing is highlighted in the following paragraphs.


    The Launch Vehicle programme of India is directed towards achieving self-reliance in placing the Indian satellites in the required orbit. While the development of Polar satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV, to place Indian remote sensing satellites (IRS) into orbit has been completed. PSLV has now become a workhorse for launching all Indian remote-sensing satellites. With the demonstration of its capability to launch multiple satellites, PSLV has become a commercially viable vehicle and it is now offered for providing launch services to others. Substantial progress has been made, during the year, in the development of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). Preparations for the first developmental test flight of this vehicle are already in progress and the launch is planned during 2000-2001.


    Under space-industry cooperation, over 236 advanced technologies developed by ISRO have been transferred to industry for commercial exploitation. Technology consultancy is also provided to industry. In order to market the variety of hardware and services that are available through ISRO, ANTRIX CORPORATION LIMITED, a Government-owned company, has been established. With Antrix Corporation, the commercial front of DOS, having established itself in the global space market, Indian industries have begun participating in the fabrication of space hardware to meet the requirement of international customer also.


    International cooperation is an important element of the Indian space programme.

    India continues to earn recognition for its space efforts. India hosted the Second Ministerial Conference on space Applications for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific organised by UN-ESCAP at New Delhi during November 15-20, 1999. The conference adopted the New Delhi Declaration that endorsed a strategy and action plan on space technology applications for improved quality of life in the new millennium and also declared the launching of second phase of the Regional space Application Programme for Sustainable Development. India played a significant role in the third United Nations Conference on Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE-III) held at Vienna during July 1999/ ISRO and the French space agency, CNES, have signed a Statement of Intent for a joint Megha Tropiques Mission that is aimed at enhancing the understanding of tropical weather and climate; Megha Tropiques will be a scientific satellite with payloads developed by CNES and ISRO and the satellite will be launched by India’s PSLV in the year 2005.

    Significant progress has been achieved in all aspects of space science, space technology and space applications. Space systems that have been established today form an important element of the national infrastructure, especially, in the areas of communication, broadcasting, meteorology, disaster warning and, monitoring and management of resources. The plans to launch more advanced satellites in the IRS and INSAT series and to place them in orbit using indigenously designed and built launch vehicles like the PSLV which has already entered into service and GSLV which is now under development, indicate the nation’s commitment to further the development and application of space technology for the country’s development in a self-reliant way.