ISRO vs NASA | The History and Future of Space Race | Dhruv Rathee
Hello, friends! In 1947, just 2 years after the end of World War II, tensions were increasing between America and the Soviet Union. Both countries emerged as Superpowers after the war, But there was a clash between their political ideologies. The heavy rivalry between the two was the start of a Cold War. Both countries were trying to develop their nuclear powers.
So both countries were developing intercontinental ballistic missiles. A missile that might be used to deliver nuclear weapons from one continent to the other. From America to the Soviet Union, or from the Soviet Union to America.
To cover such long distances, these ICBMs had to launch a rocket into outer space. Both countries knew that if either country developed a technology which can get them into space, then the country would have a huge advantage in terms of weaponry. That's why both countries were in fierce competition for getting into space first. This was the start of a space race between the two. In 1955, America announced their plans of launching artificial satellites into space. "our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others.
We go into space." Some days after this announcement, the Soviet Union said that they too wanted to launch artificial satellites. Two years later, in October 1957, the Soviet Union surpassed America in this race.
They made history by launching Sputnik. World's first artificial satellite. "Soviet Union has launched the World's First Satellite, Sputnik." One month later, they launched another satellite, Sputnik 2. This time, there was a living creature in the satellite, for the first time.
A dog named Laika. America caught up to the Soviet Union in January 1958, When they launched their first satellite, Explorer 1. The competition between the countries was so extreme, the motivation so high, that space technology was progressing rapidly. In the meanwhile, an Indian scientist, Dr Vikram Sarabhai, was quite inspired by the development of space technology.
Especially after the launch of Sputnik in 1957, he realised how important space development is for the development of a country. By 1962, he had convinced Jawaharlal Nehru, that India should have its own space program. Friends, this was the birth of ISRO. "India is aiming to become the fourth space agency to reach the mythical sphere."
"More than 16,000 people are working with ISRO. It can be considered an independent Indian organisation." "1979, SLV 3, Satellite Launch Vehicle, I was the Project Director, Mission Director, my mission is to put the satellite in orbit." Initially, ISRO was named, INCOSPAR Indian National Committee for Space Research.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru set it up under the Department of Atomic Energy Dr Vikram Sarabhai was made the Chairman, and this is why Dr Sarabhai is now known as the Father of Indian Space Program. At the nascent stage, INCOSPAR had limited infrastructure and resources. This is the reason behind the photos where you see rocket parts being transported on cycles and bullock carts.
Similarly, INCOSPAR had to set up their control room in the room of a bishop at a church in some village in the middle of nowhere. There have also been cases where a toilet in Bengaluru, was repurposed to be a satellite data receiving centre. Due to the lack of resources, they had to think of alternative options a lot. But India's space journey had begun almost immediately. In November 1963, only a year after INCOSPAR had been established, India launched its first rocket. This was a sounding rocket.
A rocket that carries instruments to take various measurements. It was launched to study the electrons in Earth's atmosphere. Back then it was supplied by NASA.
After its successful launch, the Indian scientists got experience and learned from NASA, And then we made our own sounding rocket. It was named Rohini 75. It was successfully launched on 20th November 1967. Some years later, on 15th August 1969, in India's 22nd year of Independence, INCOSPAR was renamed ISRO. Because by then, it wasn't merely a committee, it had become an organisation. An organisation with the aim of using space technology for the development of the country.
Once again, Dr Sarabhai was made the Chairman of this organisation. Under the leadership of Dr Sarabhai, ISRO's scientists worked diligently in the field of space technology. In 1975, India launched its first artificial satellite. The Aryabhata.
"The first satellite Aryabhatta was launched into space The satellite was named after Aryabhatta, who was a famous Indian astronomer, mathematician, in the 5th Century." Unfortunately, Dr Sarabhai wasn't alive to see this achievement. He passed away in 1971, due to cardiac arrest.
After him, the next Chairman of ISRO was Dr Satish Dhawan. An extremely talented mathematician and aerospace scientist. The launch of the first satellite was from the Soviet Union. ISRO took help from the Soviet Union because of an agreement between the two nations. In the next decade, the 1980s, new records were set and broken. India successfully created their own satellite launch vehicle.
So the reliance on other countries for launching satellites ended. The first Satellite Launch Vehicle, SLV-3 was used to send the satellite Rohini to the orbit. After this, ISRO worked on several other satellite launch vehicles. Such as Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), or the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), which are used to send the satellites to geo-stationary objects. In 1983, once again, ISRO took NASA's help to launch the satellite INSAT.
INSAT: Indian National Satellite System. Basically a series of communication satellites stationed in Earth's orbit which are used to communicate through radiowaves. With this, television broadcasting was possible in India.
Weather forecasting was possible. In case of a natural disaster like a tornado or cyclone, a prior warning was made possible by these satellites. It was interesting to see that on one hand, America and the Soviet Union were engaged in fierce competition with each other, India had taken help from both space agencies from time to time. In April 1984, another record was broken, Rakesh Sharma, a former pilot of the Indian Air Force, became the first and only Indian citizen to travel to space. Actually, he was onboard the Soviet Union rocket Soyuz 11, and remained in space for 8 days, as a part of Soviet Interkosmos Programme, To be updated with such useful news, I'd say don't rely on news channels. Read newspapers.
Reading newspapers is a good source of gaining knowledge daily. Whenever a news is shown on news channels, they use it to fill in the 1-hour time slot with unhelpful discussions, a lot of noise, to grab the attention of the viewers. On the other hand, in newspapers, the size of the article depends on the news and its importance.
While writing it, the authors have to conduct a certain level of research as well. This ensures quality. I mean this for all types of newspaper. But one newspaper that I'd suggest you to try is The Times of India, Especially, their new initiative The Times of A Better India.
This focuses on India's success stories. The link to it is in the description below. You can check it out.
Over the next 2 decades, the ISRO progressed exponentially. In 2008, the Chandrayan 1 mission was successful. India's first mission to go to the moon.
"8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1... GO...+1...+2...+3..." This was the turning point for the organisation.
The world now knew ISRO's potential. By 2013, India's first Mars orbiter mission was launched And India became the first country to enter Mars' orbit in the first attempt. As a space agency, ISRO was counted among the top space agencies of the world. India became to be known as a space superpower. This Mars mission was historic for several reasons. India was the fourth country to go to Mars' orbit.
And we did this at the cost of only $74 million. This is only a fraction of the cost incurred by others. The Hollywood film Martian had more budget than India's mission. $108 million was spent on it. Versus the $74 million we spent.
But many people have one question. How do ISRO's achievements compare with NASA's? Can ISRO compete with NASA? Friends, NASA was founded only four years before ISRO. In 1958. But since then, NASA has undertaken more than 1,000 unmanned missions and 245 missions to the outer space. The biggest of it all was in 1969, when humans were sent to the moon for the first time. "We decided that the way to beat the Soviets, was to put a man on the moon.
We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard." Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the Moon. During the Apollo 11 mission. Today, America is the only country that had landed humans on the moon. Apart from this, their Keplar Space Telescope has discovered thousands of exoplanets.
Planets that are outside our solar system. It was with NASA's help that the International Space Station was placed in lower Earth orbit. A spacecraft in which humans can live, work, and run experiments on space. NASA has even sent rovers to Mar's surface. In 2015, Curiosity rover landed on Mars' surface and found the first evidence of water. Proof that water exists in liquid state on Mars.
And the recent James Webb Space Telescope, on which I have made 2 videos, you can go watch them, I'll link to them in the description below, It discovered many new things, was also launched by NASA. So why is NASA so ahead of the other space agencies? Friends, the biggest reason for this is the one I talked about at the beginning of this video. NASA was established in 1958, in response of the Soviet Union. "Today, a new moon is in the sky, a 23-inch metal sphere placed in orbit by a Russian rocket." When the Soviet Union surpassed them, by launching their first satellite, America didn't want to lag behind.
They wanted to have their own space program in a civilian capacity. Due to the fierce competition between the two, we witnessed so much innovation. Then the second reason is NASA's goals. If you look at NASA's goals in detail, you'd see that their primary goal is to increase the knowledge of mankind.
And to increase human presence in space. Compare this to ISRO, ISRO wasn't built to compete with other countries. India wasn't in a war with another country where India was pressured into developing ISRO, ISRO aims to develop space technologies for the socio-economic benefit of the country. Prima facie it'll look like their missions are similar. But NASA was always more interested in conducting research, exploration and conducting technological experiments.
They carried out the Apollo 11 mission because they wanted to surpass Russia. They wanted to be the first country to send someone to the moon. They wanted to show off that they were the bigger superpower. Because of the race. On the other hand, ISRO focused on things that helped the nation.
Such as creating a satellite network to allow television broadcasting, weather forecasting, etc. Though the later missions of ISRO such as the Chandrayan and Mangalyan, fit more into the category of exploration, but at the beginning, ISRO wasn't very focused on that. Then comes the third reason, the budget of both agencies. the annual budget of NASA is around $24 billion. Compare this with the Department of Space budget in India which gets $1.7 billion in a year. And ISRO is just one organisation under the DoS.
So ISRO gets only a portion of the $1.7 million. Approximately, NASA's budget is 20 times that of ISRO. Obviously, NASA has more money to spend on ambitious and experimental missions. They use it to send rovers on Mars, satellites to Jupiter's and Saturn's moons, and even send spacecraft to asteroids. Whereas ISRO spends most of their budget in developing space technologies. Construction of space vehicles, and the ground stations, and only the necessary space missions are conducted.
They do not have the budget to undertake more missions. So it is natural that after these many years, NASA's infrastructure is much better than ISRO's. But there are things where ISRO has surpassed NASA. Such as efficiency, resourcefulness and cost-effectiveness. For example, in 2005 NASA launched a solar mission Stereo, that costed $550 million back then.
Now ISRO plans to launch a similar solar mission Aditya L1, at the cost of $55 million only. In today's economy. So you can imagine the ability to carry out the same mission at 1/10th the cost.
Similarly, NASA has planned to conduct 2 missions on the planet Venus in the near future. One would be the Veritas mission to be launched in 2028, And the other would be the Da Vinci mission to be launched in 2029. The total combined cost is estimated at $1 billion. Whereas, ISRO has planned its Shukrayaan-1 mission to go to Venus. It is planned to be launched in 2025, before NASA's attempt.
And the cost is estimated to be somewhere between $62 million to $125 million. Again, at 1/10th the cost. Obviously, a major reason for this was the recent Mars mission that was carried out at a fraction of the cost. In the future, ISRO is planning to undertake 3 very important missions.
All three are being expected to be launched next year in 2023, and the most important among these, would be the Gaganyaan mission. This would be the first manned mission to space in India. Till now, ISRO hasn't sent humans to space. Gaganyaan would be the first mission where this is attempted. ISRO will send the crew of 3 people on a spacecraft.
This spacecraft will orbit Earth for 5-7 days, at the height of around 400 km above the surface. The allocated budget for this mission is more than ₹90 billion. Almost every component of this mission is to be developed in India. The Launch Vehicle, spacecraft, life support system, crew escape system, everything is being developed in India by Indian organisations.
However, an aspect in this mission does need international collaboration, that is the spacesuits of the astronauts. And the training provided to the astronauts. This will be done with the help of Russian Space Agency ROSCOSMOS. Four pilots of the Indian Air Force have already been sent for training to the Russian Space Agency. Additionally, the team of flight physicians and communications, are being trained by the French Space Agency, National Center for Space Studies (CNES). If India is successful in this mission, India will become the fourth country in the world to send astronauts to the Lower Earth Orbit in its own capacity.
Till now, this has been achieved by only 3 countries. The USA, Russia, and China. And as I told you, till now, Rakesh Sharma is the only Indian citizen to go to space. A successful Gaganyaan mission would mean that this would change. Here, you might wonder about Kalpana Chawla.
Though Kalpana Chawla was born in Carnal, India she was a person of Indian origin, but not an Indian citizen when she went into space, So technically, she is considered American. There are three phases of the Gaganyaan mission. The phases Gaganyaan I and Gaganyaan II, will be unmanned missions. The spacecraft will be sent to space without humans. For a safety test.
We'll witness these test flights from next year. After which the final manned mission wherein humans will go to space will be conducted in 2024. Apart from this, as I said, Aditya L1 will be another important space mission to be launched in the first quarter of 2023, This will be the first Indian mission to study the Sun. The cost allocated to it is ₹3.78 billion. And then comes ISRO's Chandrayaan-3 misison. It'll be the third mission to the moon.
In 2019, Chandrayaan-2 was sent to the moon. It tried to land, but it's lander, Vikram Lander, had malfunctioned due to a software glitch. And the Vikram Lander crashed.
Chandrayaan-3 will try to attempt the same thing. It will try to have a soft-landing on the moon's south pole. Additionally, ISRO has planned more missions for the future. such as Shukrayaan-1 to go on Venus. It will be done in 2024.
And it will be in collaboration with several space agencies. Then they have planned a Lunar Polar Exploration mission in collaboration with the Japanese aerospace agency, in which, a lander and rover will be sent to the moon in 2025, to explore the region of the south pole. Additionally, a Mangalyaan-2 mission is also being planned. If you talk about the most ambitious plan in the long-term future, ISRO plans to have an Indian Space Station by 2030.
This was announced by the former ISRO Chief K Shivan in 2019. Here, one thing is for certain, the era when America and the Soviet Union would race to go to space. The era of fierce competition is now over.
Today, it is not about ISRO versus NASA or ISRO versus some other space agency, Rather, it is the time for ISRO plus NASA and other space agencies. Today, most countries do not want to fight with others, they don't want to compete, instead, they want to collaborate. Because only when they work together and share technologies with each other, ideas to increase efficiency and save costs, by working together, we will see progress for humanity in the truest sense. Not for a country or a few of them, But for the entire humanity. We hope that the Indian ecosystem which supported ISRO's growth and empowered scientists to get ISRO to the position it holds today, we continue supporting ISRO similarly in the future as well.
The story that I told you at the beginning of the video, has a happy ending. Though America and the Soviet Union had begun by competeing with each other, But by July 1975, America and the USSR, had begun collaborating with each other for space. "When we opened this hatch in space, we were opening back on the Earth an era in the history of man." Friends, 1975 is said to be the year when this Space Race came to an end.
These countries stopped running against each other, And ran together. If you liked this video, you can watch more on Space related topics, such as on the James Webb Space Telescope or on Time Travel, you can click here to watch those. Thank you very much!