Space science in India
Until the beginning of the 20th century, human endeavour in science and technology remained by and large in the restricted domain of individual initiative and motivation. However, the advances made over the previous few centuries, particularly in Europe, and the recognition by nations and governments that science can be used as a powerful instrument of national development and defence preparedness, have enabled countries which were, at that time, favourably positioned politically, economically and otherwise, so invest large funds in organised scientific research and development and reap their benefits, In the course of this century, these trends,together with the attainment of freedom by a large number of nations and peoples who were until then under the yoke of foreign domination, have given rise to the so-called developed and developing nations. The dominant role that space science, space technology and space applications have played in this phenomenon of development as well as defence preparedness is also well known. The new opportunities that space research has offered for the study of the earth, the solar syatem and the astronomical universe is a factor which has given a new dimension to man's oldest quest to know the mysteries of the celestial bodies and the origin of the universe. The accomplishments so far in space research and the multifaceted potentialities for the future are so obvious, so immense and in a sense so frightening that the present era is rightly called the space age. No nation can afford to ignore these facts if it to continue its struggle for intellectual and material advancement, and indeed for its independent existence.
In India, ever since its independence in 1947, there has been an adequate recognition and appreciation of these considerations. In consequence, over the last 35 years a pragmatic approach has been formulated and implemented with government patronage in steps, culminating in an Indian capability to develop its own satellite launch vehicle and to successfully launch its satellites in earth orbit for various peaceful applications of space. In the present paper, we first present a brief review of the progress of the Indian space science activities and then endeavour to deduce some lessons from this experience. It is good to emphasise here itself the intimate connection between space science and space technology. Modern space science cannot flourish without space technology. Hence, in our consideration here the two will be inextricably connected at many points.
Indian Journal of History of Science, Vol. 27, no. 4 (1992).