January 15, 2014
Gopalaswamy: One More Jewel in India's Space Crown
India has realized a decades-old dream by launching its first satellite into orbit last week, and doing it on a rocket built with its own technology. The launch is a major step toward placing India alongside the five other space powers -- the United States, Russia, China, Japan and Europe's Arianespace consortium -- in the lucrative market for launching telecommunications satellites. It also defeats, after almost twenty years of technology development, a block by the United States in the 1990s that pressured Russia to cancel a sale of rocket engines and other technology to India.
The rocket that India calls its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) lofted a two-ton communications satellite into orbit in what was a testament to India's political determination to overcome the U.S. obstruction. No fewer than at least six successive Indian governments sustained the funding that let the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to develop the GSLV. The rocket's ability to launch satellites promises to help India better meet its exploding communication needs.