Space sector reforms have provided an “enabling milieu” for progress in, placing India as a frontline nation, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh said in Thiruvananthapurm on November 25.
Inaugurating the 60th anniversary celebrations of the first sounding rocket launch from Thumba, which marked the beginning of the nation’s space programme in 1963, Mr. Singh said that prior to the reforms, ISRO was “shrouded in a veil of secrecy, a self-imposed barrier.”
The opening up of the sector has ensured the entry of space technology into “every household in the last two years,” he said. Funding and knowledge partnerships have increased with the entry of the private sector. The reforms have also given a sense of involvement to each and every citizen of India.
“Space sector is now open to everybody. And the outcomes are very encouraging,” he said. Apart from scientific progress, this sense of involvement has also contributed to the resource pool of our space ventures. Within three years, the country has more than 150 space startups, he said.
An American-made Nike-Apache sounding rocket had lifted off from Thumba on November 21, 1963, launching India’s space programme.
Commemorative sounding rocket launching
On Saturday morning, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its unit Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) fired off a Rohini series RH200 sounding rocket from Thumba to commemorate the first launch. The launch was witnessed by Mr. Singh, senior ISRO officials, veterans of the space agency, and school children.
ISRO chairman S. Somanath, who presided over the celebrations, said the 60th anniversary will be observed across ISRO centres till August 23, 2024. August 23 had been declared as National Space Day to commemorate the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission.
Also Read |
The successes of ISRO could not have been possible without the pioneers of the Indian space programme and that very first launch, Mr. Somanath said. “This is also an occasion to thank the founding fathers of the space programme, starting from (Vikram) Sarabhai, who envisioned such a sounding rocket programme and identified this location, obtained the land from the local people and made it the birthplace of rocketry in this country. That’s something we need to celebrate and we also thank all the people who worked with him to make this happen,” Mr. Somanath said.
VSSC director S. Unnikrishnan Nair thanked the people of Pallithura (Thumba) who vacated their land and church to establish the space programme in the 1960s. Fr. Binu Joseph Alex of the Pallithura Church was present at the event.
Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan and ISRO veterans including former chairman G. Madhavan Nair were present on the occasion. Others present included Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) director V. Narayanan, Satish Dhawan Space Centre director A. Rajarajan, ISRO Inertial Systems Unit director E. S. Padmakumar, Human Space Flight Centre director M. Mohan and ISRO Propulsion Complex director J. Asir Packiaraj.