New Book – The Indian Space Programme

Title: The Indian Space Programme

Sub Title: India’s incredible journey from the Third World towards the First

Overview: The story of the Indian space programme is described in 17 chapters, 600+ pages, 140+ illustrations, 8 appendices, 20+ tables and 1000+ endnotes.


“a snap purchase but one I have very much enjoyed” and “packed with the most incredible amount of detail”. Two separate reviews.

The book describes the evolution of India’s activities in space in the context of Indian and global scientific and technological evolution. Reading the book is like walking down a broad avenue and exploring interesting side streets that appear from time to time Geospatial World (page 66)

A true scholarly, and authoritative history. A landmark book.” Dr Allan Chapman, Wadham College University of Oxford.

Singh has done a masterful job of pulling together unique material and photos for a popular reader.” Leonard David.

This is a monumental book on the Indian space program, arguably the least covered major space program in the world. In over 600 pages, the author describes the organization and history of India’s launcher and satellite programs. My conclusion was that if something is not covered in this book, it wasn’t worth covering. Kudos to Mr.Singh for researching and writing such a complete overview. If you have any questions on India’s space efforts, the answer will surely be here.” Bert Vis

Excellent book giving each and every single detail, not only about India’s Space Programme, but also historical aspects of Europe, USA and Russian” Dr Rajinder Singh, University of Oldenburg, Germany.

Available now




At 18:25 on 21st November 1963, a rocket launched into space from India. It heralded the start of the Indian Space program even though the news of this achievement was lost in the midst of the global media coverage of the assassination of President Kennedy on the following day. Since those early days when a former Catholic church was the space programs headquarters and just about everything the Space program used came from abroad, India is now a leading spacefaring nation.

Today, India’s space program is delivering on the vision of its founder Vikram Sarabhai, that Space Services should touch the lives of the ordinary people of India. With every orbit of India’s growing number of satellites, the quality of the lives of millions of Indians is enhanced by space-based services in agriculture, healthcare, commerce, communication and education.

Over the last half-century, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has constructed a substantial collection of weather and communication satellites delivering tsunami, typhoon and flood warnings, search and rescue services and direct-to-home television broadcasts. ISRO sent a spacecraft to the Moon in 2008, to Mars in 2013 and placed a space telescope in Earth’s orbit in 2016. Of the 1167 satellites in orbit, 75 were made in India, and 35 are in operation today. The space program is the epitome of India’s journey from the third to the first world.

This book provides the big picture of India’s long association with science, from historical figures like Aryabhata and Bhaskara to Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai, the key architects of its modern space program. It traces the technological development of Tipu Sultan’s use of rockets in large-scale warfare in the 1780s; the all but forgotten contribution of Stephen H Smith who established a world record by transporting parcels and livestock by rocket power in 1935 in northern India; the detailed first-hand account of India’s first space launch in 1963 from those who were present at the time and concludes by looking at ISRO’s current and future goals.

Key questions about the Indian Space Research Organisation are answered in the pages of this book. What type of launchers has it developed? How are the ordinary people of India benefitting? How did ISRO go to the Moon and Mars? What are the prospects for India’s ambitions for human spaceflight, military and science projects? Will India compete or collaborate with China, USA and Russia?

Richly illustrated with pictures, many published for the first time, this one book written for the non-specialist offers a comprehensive view of India’s space program – its history, current status and future ambitions, all in one place.

An overview of the contents below.


About the Author

List of Figures

List of Tables


1.      Rise of National Space Programmes

Tipu’s Rockets

Rockets and Empire

Space Rockets

National Space Programmes

Founding Fathers of Modern Rocketry

Scramble for German Rocket Technology

Korolev, the Chief Designer

von Braun and the Moon

Sarabhai and India’s Space Programme

2.      From Vedic Astronomy to Modern Observatories

Colonialism and Renaissance

The Great Trigonometrical Survey

Madras Observatory

The Madras Catalogue

Discovery of Helium

The Earth-Sun Distance

Kodaikanal Observatory

The Evershed Effect

Other Observatories

3.      Emergence of Scientific Institutions

Aligarh Scientific Society

Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research

Indian Institute of Science

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

Scientific Temper

4.      Science and the Raj

Jagadish Chandra Bose

Srinivasa Ramanujan

CV Raman

Satyendra Nath Bose

Homi Jehangir Bhabha

5.      India’s Forgotten Rocketeer

Air and Rocket Mail

Rocket Mail and World War II

Smith’s Personal Life

6.      Vikram Sarabhai: Leadership by Trust


Sarabhai Family and Gandhi


Peaceful Uses

Sudden Peaceful Death

7.     First Launch

Indian National Committee for Space Research

Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launch Station

Pakistan’s Space Agency

First Launch in India

One Village One Television: SITE

SITE Infrastructure

8.     Inside the Indian Space Research Organisation

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre

Space Applications Centre

ISRO Satellite Centre

Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre

ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network

Master Control Facility

Recovering Costs – Antrix

9.     India’s Spaceport

Mission Control Centre

First Launch Pad

Second Launch Pad

Solid Propellant Booster Plant

Local Propellant Facilities

Launch Dynamics

10.   ISRO’s Rockets

Inertial Guidance System

Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3)

Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV)

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)

Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)

Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (LVM3)


Future Launch Vehicles

Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV)


11.    Struggle with Cryogenic Technology

India’s Cryogenic Engine

Russian Roulette

Missile Technology Control Regime

Commercial Space Services

12.   Satellites and Saris

India’s First Satellite: Aryabhata

Earth Observation: Bhaskara and IRS

Bhaskara 1 and 2


Remote Sensing Instrument

Data from Earth Observation Satellites

Ariane Passenger Payload Experiment

Communication Satellites

INSAT 1 Series

INSAT 2 Series

Education and Defence

Satellite Assisted Search and Rescue

13.   Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System

Space Segment

Ground Segment

User Segment

Navigation Satellite

GAGAN: GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation

Global Navigation Satellite Systems

14.   Human Space Flight

India’s First and Only Astronaut Rakesh Sharma

Still-born Astronaut

Roadmap for Human Spaceflight

15.   Moon, Mars and Science

Destination Moon

Building Chandrayaan-1

Many nations, one spacecraft

Moon Impact Probe

Journey to the Moon

Science from Chandrayaan-1

Chandrayaan-2: Journey to the Lunar Surface

Why India Went to Mars

From Sriharikota to Mars

Science from Martian Orbit

Astrosat – Astronomy from Orbit

Operational Status

Future Science and Interplanetary Missions

16.   Space and National Defence

Space Infrastructure

For All Mankind

War and Space

Anti-Satellite Weapons

Space Debris

17.   The Road Ahead

Satellite TV—Demand and Supply

Private Sector

Research and Development

Global Space Market

Rockets or Roti

Regional Space Power

International Collaboration

Value of Space

Chasing a Chimera?



List of Interviews

Indian Currency

Types of Orbits

Satellite Communication

International Treaties

ISRO Spaceflight History