New Delhi (ISJ) ? 2014 has been the most successful year so far for India?s voyage into space, with the seamless insertion of its spacecraft in the red planet - Mars, launch of indigenously developed cryogenic engine and the next generation launch vehicle GSLV Mark III.
India evolved into a formidable player in space technology, with the success of its Mars Mission ? perhaps the cheapest ever by any country locking with the red planet in the maiden attempt itself. As Indian space scientists kept their fingers crossed, until Mars Orbiter Mission successfully slipped into the planet?s orbit at text-book precision after 322 days of flight.
With the Mars Orbit Insertion, ISRO became the fourth space agency to successfully send a spacecraft to Mars. The agency will now test the spacecraft and the systematic observation using the five scientific instruments on board, in the coming weeks.
The successful launch of cryogenic engine was yet another milestone in Indian space technology, as it emerged out of almost two decades of technology denial regime to become self-reliant. India would have been in the exclusive cryogenic club as early as in 1994, but tripped by an espionage case, which ultimately could not stand judicial scrutiny. The indigenous cryogenic engine powered GSLV-D5, to inject Communication Satellite, GSAT-14 into the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit.
The year also saw ISRO launching India?s own navigational satellite IRNSS-1B in April and IRNSS-1C in October to strengthen the country?s independent navigational system and provide accurate position information service to domestic users and users in the region extending upto 1500 kms from its boundary.
If the year began with the launch of its indigenous cryogenic engine, ISRO wrapped up the year with the successful launch of its heavy-duty launch vehicle GSLV MK-III, carrying a 3775 kg. Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARD), inching towards India?s ambition to send human to space.
The Crew Module safely landed into the Bay of Bengal and was retrieved by Indian Coast Guard from Bay of Bengal, 20 minutes and 43 seconds after the lift off.
The icing in the cake for ISRO in 2014 was naming of its Chief Dr. K. Radhakrishan among Nature?s 10 ? ?Ten people who mattered in the world in 2014? by ?Nature? magazine.
-By N.B. Nair