Published: 19th April 2021
What the FAQ: When was India's first artificial satellite launched and how?
All you need to know about the Aryabhata satellite, its launch, features and purpose
Forty-six years ago, on this day, India made history when it launched its first artificial satellite Aryabhata, thus making her entry into the world of satellite technology. Here's all you need to know about the satellite.
When and how was the satellite launched?
It was launched on April 19, 1975, from Kapustin Yar, a Russian rocket launch and development site using a Kosmos-3M launch vehicle. It was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The launch came from an agreement between India and the Soviet Union signed in 1972. It allowed the USSR to use Indian ports for tracking ships and launching vessels in return for launching various different Indian satellites.
What was the purpose of the satellite?
It was built to conduct experiments in X-ray astronomy, aeronomic, and solar physics. The satellite’s 96-minute orbit had an apogee of six hundred and eleven kilometres and a perigee of five hundred and sixty-eight kilometres, at an inclination of roughly fifty degrees. The scientific instruments had to be switched off during the fifth day in orbit because of a failure in the satellite’s electrical power system. However, useful information was collected during the five days of operation. The satellite returned to the Earth’s atmosphere on February 11, 1992.
How much did it cost?
The project of the satellite was initially pegged at Rs 3 crore but cost a little more, as furniture and other things had to be bought.
What were its features?
Aryabhata weighed 360 kilograms. The spacecraft was a 26-sided polygon 1.4 m in diameter. All faces (except the top and bottom) were covered with solar cells.
Was it successful?
A power failure halted experiments after four days and 60 orbits with all signals from the spacecraft lost after five days of the operation. The spacecraft mainframe remained active till March 1981. Due to orbital decay, the satellite entered Earth's atmosphere on February 11, 1992.