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The News Minute | September 24, 2014 | 08:26 am IST  Today is a proud day for India. September 24 from now will mark the day India's Mangalyaan entered the Mars orbit successfully. India has also become the only nation to have succeeded in the Mars mission in its very first attempt.  This feat also adds another feather to the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO's cap.  However, delving into ISRO's history, India's  primary space agency was a very humble beginning for the Indian Space program. Under the founding father of India's space program, the visionary Dr Vikram Sarabhai, The Indian National Committee for Space research was set up in 1962. Encouraged by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru- an initial team of rocket engineers went to America for 6 months training. In the team, was the young and ambitious scientist- former president APJ Abdul Kalam. ( Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and Dr. Paine Sign a Satellite Agreement; Image Source: GRIN ) On November 21, 1963, the Indian National Committee for Space Research or INCOSPAR launched India's first sounding rocket from the southern tip of the nation, Thumba. On that day, Vikram Sarabhai, shared with his colleagues, the dream of an Indian satellite launch vehicle. Since then, there's been no looking back. ( The Magdelene church in Thumba where the first Indian rocket was assembled and integrated in 1962; Image Source: VSSC ) On August 15, 1969, the Indian Space Research Organisation, or the ISRO, was created; Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh was chosen as the rocket launch station. The space program working on a shoe string budget soon launched India's first indigenous satellite. On April 19, 1975, Russia's SL-8 put into orbit the Aryabhatta. Five years later in 1980 India made its first successful indigenous satellite launch- the Rohini 1B was launched on July 18, 1980, from Sriharikota. While the space program was making rapid strides, in 1984  a 35-year-old Indian Air Force pilot, Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian to go in space. ( Rohini Satellite (RS-1) launched by Indian launch vehicle SLV-3 on  July 18, 1980; Image Source: http://www.csre.iitb.ac.in/isro/rohini.html ) At this time, the ISRO was constructing a satellite launch vehicle that would be able to put useful satellites into polar orbits. The Polar Satellite Launch vehicle or the PSLV made its first successful launch in 1994 and since then the PSLV has become India's workhorse launch vehicle. In 2001, India launched the still larger GSLV- Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle- that could put into orbit satellites weighing up to 2.5 tonnes.  ( Indira Gandhi at Thumba ) ( Abdul Kalam at ISRO when he was President ) ( A young Madhavan Nair at ISRO ) Today, the Indian space program has come a long way from the modest sounding rockets. We are a member of the elite club that even does commercial satellite launch, a business worth billions of dollars.  As Prime Minister Narendra Modi aptly put in his speech at the ISRO, India has made history today. And we all are grateful to our scientists. 

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