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Facts About Aryabhatta Satellite – Why Russia Launched Aryabhatta Satellite?

Facts About Aryabhatta Satellite
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Remember the general knowledge class of II standard, where we were introduced to the missile man of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, and his precious achievements? Well, by now you must be aware that among his many masterworks, one was the launching of the First Indian satellite, Aryabhatta by the Russian Kapustin Yar rocket launch and development site. But, what were the Aryabhatta satellite purpose and the story behind the Aryabhatta launch? Why Russia launched Aryabhatta satellite? This article will walk you through the story behind one of the leading achievements of ISRO in its initial days and will also throw light on some lesser-known facts about Aryabhatta satellite. 

The Aryabhatta Story 

While we only associate Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam with the Aryabhatta satellite, prominent figures like Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and UR Rao also contributed their fair share to the project. The initiative for the project was fuelled when Dr. Vikram Sarabhai requested Professor UR Rao to lead the project and after a year of struggle, the leading personality finally agreed. Followed by this, scientists and engineers from the PRL and SSTC came together and formed the Satellite Systems Division to create the satellite which was due to be launched by a USA space launch vehicle! 

Amidst this, the SSD demanded a satellite location for the operation to continue and after thorough research, Professor UR Rao, and AS Rao fixed their location in Bangalore on industrial sheds which were later remodeled into sophisticated locations apt for the satellite project. Amidst such happy incidents, the demise of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai delayed the project for months during which the meeting between India and USSR got delayed. While the rocket launching was fixed to be launched by the USA, the USSR showed interest in the same and offered it for free launch. 

Finally in 1972, with the approval of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the then Minister for Space, India joined the USSR team and the ISRO attached a new feather to its crown! Till now, we have learned the backstory of the Aryabhatta satellite. But, the question is, Why did Russia launch the Aryabhatta satellite? What objectives did it serve to the space organization and the nation as a whole? What was the Aryabhatta satellite purpose? Read more. 

Aryabhatta Satellite Purpose – Why Russia Launched Aryabhatta Satellite? 

Though the Aryabhatta satellite purpose was to conduct research and experiments in X-ray astronomy, aeronomy, and Solar neutron and Gamma Rays Studies, the sole reason behind why Russia launched Aryabhatta satellite was to design a space satellite and evaluate its performance in orbit for future operations. Other reasons behind the same were:

  1. Evolving the methodology of conducting a series of complex operations on the satellite in its orbital phase
  2. Setting up the necessary ground-based receiving, transmitting, and tracking systems
  3. Establishing the relevant infrastructure for the fabrication, testing, and qualification of such sophisticated spacecraft systems.

Facts About Aryabhatta Satellite 

Till now, we have learned about the Aryabhatta satellite story and the reason behind why Russia launched Aryabhatta satellite. This section will focus on some lesser-known technical and non-technical facts about Aryabhatta satellite.

  1. The Aryabhatta was a 26-sided polygon with a diameter of 1.4 meters which was launched on 19th April 1975. The weight of the space vehicle was around 360 Kilogram! 
  2. The satellite resembles its name to the famous Indian mathematician, Aryabhatta. The name Aryabhatta satellite was chosen by the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. 
  3. While the rocket launching was fixed with the USA, an agreement between India and the USSR team finally fixed the launching of the spacecraft from the Kapustin Yar Rocket launching and development site in Russia. The launch vehicle used in operation was the Kosmos – 3 M launch vehicle. 
  4. In return for support, UR Rao, with the support of Indira Gandhi, allowed the USSR to use Indian ports for tracking ships. 
  5. A mishap followed before the launching event in which the electrical power system functions were slowed down which resulted in the partial failure of the system, but the enthusiasm and determination of the experts bore fruit, and the system was repaired within four days and was ready to take its flight in space. 
  6. In its initial days, the cost for the mission was estimated to be 60 lakhs which was further increased to Rs. 3 crores. But, the cost crossed its estimated value later. 
  7. While the Reserve Bank of India stamped the image of the satellite on the backside of the 2 rupee note which remained in circulation between 1976 and 1997 to honor the historic launch, both India and Russia released stamps and first-day covers! 
  8. After 17 years, on 11th February 1992, Aryabhatta re-entered Earth’s atmosphere, after the satellite operations were switched off. 


While the Aryabhatta was not a huge success for ISRO, the space organization never looked back to the date and has launched many new and innovative spacecraft that have served for research experiments. While the real reason behind why Russia launched Aryabhatta satellite did not gain many results, the Indian Space Research and Development Organization has now become one of the leading space organizations in the world and has designed some of the best spacecraft and satellites.

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