Welcome Remarks by Dr Arvind Gupta, Director VIF during Vimarsh on “India’s Space Programme: Achievements and Prospects” by Dr Kiran Kumar, former Chairman ISRO on 17 Jan 2020

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to today’s Vimarsh talk on India’s Space Programme: Achievements and Prospects” by Dr Kiran Kumar, former Chairman ISRO

I would like to thank him for having agreed to deliver a talk on India’s Space Programme: Achievements and Prospects.

Sh. Kiran Kumar is presently Vikram Sarabhai Professor at the ISRO Bangalore, and a member of the Space Commission. He is also at the governing council Indian Institute of Science Bangalore. Sh. Kiran Kumar was Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman, Space Commission and Chairman ISRO during 2015-18.

Dr. Kiran Kumar received M. Tech degree in Physical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in 1975 and M.Sc (Physics) from Bangalore University in 1973.

During his career at the ISRO, he has contributed to India’s space programme in many important areas such as Earth Observation, Communication, Navigation, Meteorology and the development of Indigenous Launch Vehicles and related technology.

He has contributed to the design and development of more than 50 electro-optical imaging sensors for space borne platforms starting from Bhaskara satellite in 1979 to Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) in 2013.

Sh. Kiran Kumar played a crucial role in the conceptualization and operationalization of the Chandrayan -1 mission as well as to the success of Mars Orbiter Mission and Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD).

He is an academic of repute, having authored 85 publications in various scientific journals, conferences and symposium.

In recognition of his contribution, he was conferred Padma Shree Award in 2014. He has also been given the highest civilian award by the government of France in May 2019.


ISRO is a jewel in India’s crown. When we talk about independent India’s scientists and technical achievements, the name of ISRO invariably crops up. From a humble beginning in the early 1960s, the Indian Space Research Organisation has come a long way. Today, India is a major space power. India’s space programme is contributing significantly to the nation’s development, security and morale.

In 2019, the national attention was riveted on the Chandrayaan 2 mission. Although Vikram Lander could not make a soft landing, it won the hearts of billion plus people instantly. The lunar orbiter continues to send useful scientific data. India’s powerful launch vehicle, capable of launching 4-ton satellite into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) carried Chandrayaan 2 to space. The scientists are now preparing for yet another attempt to land a rover on the moon.

Buoyed by a string of successes over the years, ISRO’s ambitions have been enhanced considerably. We are looking to a human space flight which would carry an Indian to the space once again but this time in an Indian spacecraft to be launched by an Indian launcher.

During 2019 alone, ISRO accomplished 13 missions, including 6 launch vehicles and 7 satellite missions. 50 foreign satellites from seven countries were launched during this period. India is making its presence felt in commercial space as well.

This year, India’s MARS Orbiter Mission completed 5 years in its orbit around MARS. With the launch of Cartosat III high-resolution imaging satellite and RISAT 2 B radar imaging satellite, India’s Earth Observation Capability have been strengthened considerably. India also launched a third-generation high-resolution imaging Satellite Cartosat III during this year.

Significant movement has been made toward the operationalization of an Indian GPS namely the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). Qualcomm Technologies INC have developed a chipset on behalf of the ISRO which will be incorporated in GPS instrument. Soon our mobile phones will have Indian GPS called NAVIC instead of American GPS. That will be a proud moment for us.

There are many other activities which were listed in the year and review of the Department of Space recently. It is heartening that the department has set up a government of India owned company called New Space India Limited (NSIL) to enable Indian industry to exploit commercial opportunity arising out of the Indian space programme.

Equally important, ISRO has made significant outreach to colleges and schools which will fire the imagination of our young generation.

The Gaganyaan human space flight and the commercialisation of India’s space programme will have wide-ranging positive impact for nation-building. It will give a boost to the development of a space industry in the private sector too. India’s image in the world will become even brighter with the efforts of the Indian Space Research Organisation.

As India’s space programme expands and deepens, we will have to be mindful of space security challenges as well. Militarization and weaponisation of space on which many countries have embarked can prove to be deeply destabilizing for the world. India will have to be active on space diplomacy front.

The shape of outer space will change with these innovations. India will need to position itself appropriately to ensure that it does not miss out in the new space revolution that is beginning to happen with the entry of private companies which plan to launch thousands of satellite in the already crowded outer space.

We need a national space law to provide a legal framework for the growth of the space industry in India.

I invite Dr Kiran Kumar to share his perspectives on India’s space programme.

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