A Very Happy Birthday to Aryabhata, the First Indian Satellite

Aryabhata celebrates its birthday!

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Video Editor: Hitesh Singh

When the world was busy putting rockets into space, India decided to up the game and put a man into space instead. The first Indian satellite in space, the Aryabhata, was launched in 1975. It was named after the fifth-century astronomer and mathematician and was built with the aim to conduct experiments in X-ray astronomy, aeronomics, and solar physics.

The spacecraft was a 26-sided polygon 1.4 m in diameter and it cost Rs 3 crore. Think about it, today an IPL star costs more than that! That said, putting 360kg in space was no easy task. So we took some help from the Russians to do it. It was launched by a Soviet Kosmos-3M rocket from Kapustin Yar, Russia.

It was the pride of the nation, even gaining a spot on the Rs 2 currency notes between 1976-97. The satellite spent 17 long and productive years in space, before returning home in 1992. As per the ISRO website, the spacecraft mainframe was active till March 1981.

With Aryabhata, India strode confidently into the space race. Today, as we launch satellites by the dozen (remember the time we launched 104 satellites with one rocket?) – let’s take a moment to pay homage to where it all started. Happy Birthday, Aryabhata!

(This video was first published on 19 April 2017 and has been reposted from The Quint’s archives to mark the day the satellite was launched.)

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