Space astronomy in India: 43 years and counting

R. K. Manchanda*
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Colaba, Mumbai 400 005, India

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The beginning of Space astronomy in India took place at TIFR in 1966, with the development of a small balloon borne X- ray astronomy payload. During the 1966-1976 period, studies in the X-ray and Gamma ray energy bands were pursued both at TIFR and PRL, Ahmedabad. Infrared astronomy made its beginning in 1975. The rapid progress of Space astronomy in the early years was mainly due to the availability of large plastic balloons and detector tools developed by the High altitude studies group of TIFR, which I joined in 1966 and initiated the fabrication of the X-ray payload. Balloon borne astronomy has thrived during the past 43 years while satellite opportunities during this period were few and only for piggyback payloads. At present, a full fledged multi-wavelength astronomy satellite mission named ASTROSAT is under fabrication and will be launched in 2011.

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Keywords :X-ray astronomy, Space astronomy, Balloon borne experiments, History of astronomy