New Delhi: With IRSO succeeding in its first inter-planetary Mars Orbiter Mission making India the only country to achieve this feat in its maiden attempt, 2014 was not only momentous but a very busy year for the space sector.
The year saw two successful launches of GSLVs and five foreign satellites in the orbit. The country’s space agency also tested the atmospheric re-entry of a crew module towards realising its ambition to send humans into space. At the start of the year, ISRO launched GSLV-D5 through use of indigenous cryogenic technology and injected GSAT-14 communication satellite into the intended orbit, announcing India’s entry into the heavy satellite launch market. Launching a GSLV with an indigenous cryogenic engine has been a major challenge for ISRO since 2001 after multiple unsuccessful attempts. Only two of a total of seven attempts succeeded, four were a failure and another, a partial success. In April, it successfully launched its IRNSS 1B, its second navigational satellite, onboard PSLV-C24 from Sriharikota. IRNSS-1B, the second of the seven satellites planned under the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).
In June, ISRO launched five foreign satellites for four countries on board PSLV-C23 rocket which placed them in orbit, an achievement described by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an ‘endorsement’ of the country’s space capabilities. Besides its primary payload of 714 kg French Earth Observation Satellite SPOT-7, the rocket carried and placed in orbit 14 kg AISAT of Germany, NLS7.1 (CAN-X4) and NLS7.2 (CAN-X5) of Canada, each weighing 15 kg, and the 7 kg VELOX-1 of Singapore.