The Indian Space Science Programme has the primary goal of promoting and establishing a vibrant space science, applications and technology programme to assist in the overall development to the nation.
Right from its inspection, pursuit of space research is one of the important objectives of the Indian Space Programme. The Thumba's Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) was established near Thriuvananthapuram in 1963 for studying the ionospheric electrojet and related phenomena, which opened up a new chapter in space research activities in the country. Also, the first Indian satellite, Aryabhata, launched in 1975, carried scientific experiments to investigate X-ray astronomy, solar neutrons and supra-thermal electron density, Since then, several instruments for scientific research have been flown on board high altitude balloons, sounding rockets and satellites. Several ground based facilities have also been set up for conducting research by scientists from universities and research institutes as part of astrophysical, solar and atmospheric research programmes.
India has a vast experience in developing and launching operational spacecraft systems for survey and management of natural resources, meteorological services and satellite communication. Technologies developed for those spacecraft systems, which are readily available now at ISRO, can be fully exploited for embarking on planetary missions with well thought out scientific objectives. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) of ISRO are capable of undertaking missions to the Moon and other nearby planets.
The technical capabilities acquired by India and the enthusiasm of modern Indian scientists in exploring the MOON, prompted ISRO to undertake Chandrayaan-1, India's first mission to the Moon. The primary objectives of the mission are to expand knowledge about the origin and evolution of the Moon, further upgrade Indians technological capabilities and provide challenging opportunities to the young scientists working in the planetary sciences.
The idea of an Indian mission to the Moon was initially mooted in a meeting of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1999 that was followed up by discussion in the Astronautical Society of India in 2000. Based on the recommendations made by the learned members of these forums, a National Lunar Mission Task force was constituted by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with leading scientists and technologists from all over the country for considering and making an assessment of the possible configuration and feasibility of taking up an Indian mission to the Moon.
A peer group of more than hundred eminent Indian scientists representing various fields of planetary and space sciences, earth sciences, physics, chemistry, astronomy, astrophysics, engineering and communication sciences deliberated on the Study Report of the Task Team in 2003 and unanimously recommended that India should undertake the Mission to the Moon, particularly, in view of the renews international interest with several exciting lunar missions planned for the new millennium. In addition, such a mission will provide the needed thrust to basic science and engineering research in the country, including new challenges to ISRO to go beyond the geostationary orbit.
The Chandrayyan-1 mission will be an important catalyst for the youngsters to pursue fundamental research. The academia, in particular, the university scientists would find participation in such a project like Chandrayaan-1 intellectually rewarding.
Government of India approved ISROs proposal for the first Indian Moon Mission called Chandrayaan-1, in November 2003.