Nov 20 2019

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Contribution of the USSR Interkosmos Program to Promotion of Cooperation with India

In the 60-s of the 20-th century scientists explored space around the Earth, the Sun, the Galaxy, and they realized that this task can not be covered by efforts of one design office or a single country – this is a problem of all mankind, that requires global analysis of phenomena and complex research methods. In this very direction it is necessary to concentrate efforts of scientists of all countries. Space should not divide, but unite people.

In 1966 the Soviet Academy of Sciences established Council on international cooperation in the field of exploration and use of outer space, “Interkosmos”. Academician Boris Nikolaevich Petrov, a member of AS USSR Presidium, was assigned its chairman, and Professor Vyacheslav Kovtunenko became a member of the Council, and the first General Director of the Interkosmos program.

The Soviet Union was the first one among space-monitoring countries that entered the path of international cooperation. Ukrainian republic was actively involved into work at the international level. Practical activities of Dnepropetrovsk Design Office Yuzhnoye named after Yangel, who was one of the founders of international cooperation development in space exploration, were conducted in collaboration with the Interkosmos Council.

In 1969-1991 a large-scale complex program of space research, Interkosmos, was started by Yuzhnoye jointly with AS of socialist countries, and in the future it planned to involve scientific organizations from France, India, Sweden and Austria. Interkosmos program had open status and included five basic areas for joint research: space physics, meteorology, communications, biology, medicine, and a program of Earth remote sensing.

The world’s first spacecraft carried out scientific exploration of near-Earth space within the Interkosmos program; it was the spacecraft designed by Yuzhnoye. On October 14, 1969 at the cosmodrome Kapustin Yar, at the presence of the foreign Scientists from nine countries, the launch vehicle K оsmos-1 from Dnepropetrovsk was launched; it injected into orbit the spacecraft that in public press was named Interkosmos -1 . 22 of 25 spacecraft, launched into orbit within the Soviet Interkosmos program were created at Yuzhnoye and manufactured at the production association Yuzhnyy Machine-Building Plant.

“Within the framework of Interkosmos program we collaborated with the scientists from many countries”, – says Anatoly Popel, Deputy Chief Designer of Yuzhnoye. – “Collaboration with Indian scientists and specialists has been especially effective”.

The first ten years’ program of space research of India has been developed under guidance of an outstanding scientist and public figure, Chairman of Department of atomic energy, Vikram Sarabhai, in 1971. This program has been approved by the Prime Minister of India, I. Gandy. The important stage of the program was creation of proper Indian spacecraft, preparation of experts in the field of space technologies, organization of space rocketry units manufacture. To solve these problems the government of India asked the Soviet Union for help.

On May 10, 1972 the Agreement on rendering consultancy to Indian side and technical help in creation of scientific spacecraft, its launch by means of the Soviet launch vehicle from territory of the USSR was signed between the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and Indian Organization of Space Research Government of India (ISRO). Practical implementation of the Agreement was assigned to DB Yuzhnoye as developer of launch vehicles and small satellites Kosmos and Interkosmos series. From the Soviet side professor V. Kovtunenko was appointed the project manager, and A.Popel was appointed assistance project manager. From the Indian side professor U. Rao was assigned project manager, and K. Kasturirangan was assistance project manager respectively.

The first Indian spacecraft Aryabhata (named in honor of the Indian astronomer and mathematician of the 5-th century, Ariabaty) was launched on April 19, 1975, by launch vehicle Interkosmos from Kapustin Yar cosmodrome. The scientific complex of devices for research in the field of x-ray astronomy, registration of the neutron and γ -radiation of the Sun and measure the flow of particles and radiation in an ionosphere has been established on the spacecraft. The satellite had a small plate with inscription: “The first scientific satellite of India. Product of Soviet-Indian cooperation.”

Further cooperation between the USSR and India after launching of the first Indian spacecraft was continued at the previous levels and cooperation to build and launch a second spacecraft for experimental testing of remote sensing of the Earth to research natural resources of India. Successful launch of the new spacecraft Bhaskara by launch vehicle Interkosmos from Kapustin Yar on June 7, 1979, was the result of new teamwork of USSR and India experts. This satellite received the name in honor of the Indian astronomer and mathematician of the 12-th century, Bhaskara. For Bhaskara-1 the design of Aryabhata was followed, with keeping to its basic structure.

Modernized Indian spacecraft Bhaskara-2 was injected into orbit on November 20, 1981, by launch vehicle Interkosmos, in accordance with the Agreement between AS of USSR and ISRO about launching of the third Indian spacecraft by the Soviet launch vehicle from the territory of the USSR, dated 11.06.1979. Following the design and structure of the providing and scientific equipment, this spacecraft also had the third channel of microwave radiometer for measurement of water vapor in an atmosphere of the Earth.

As a result, the spacecraft provided the data, necessary for development of many branches of science, thus contributing to improving of technologies of space exploration.

Joint development and successful launch of the first Indian satellites Ariabata, Bhaskara-1, Bhaskara-2 contributed to creation and establishment of the National Space Program of India. The public and government circles in this country appreciated the assistance of the Soviet partners and, in particular, the team of Yuzhnoye SDO.

Rare was the fact that in India attention was given to culture in addition to scientific and technical activities at collaboration. The Indians prepared an interesting cultural program for the Soviet experts, and such sensitivity and goodwill, of course, was positive for cooperation of both sides and helped to find a common language. Thus, there was arranged a whole week of Indian culture including also familiarity with Indian movies in one of the trips.

The scientists also repeatedly visited under Bangalore the estate of the great Russian artist and thinker Svetoslav Roerich who was the youngest son of Nikolai Roerich. Svetoslav Roerich showed his paintings and paintings of the father in his studio, also the delegation of the scientists was able to see the estate and big plantation of essential oil trees under the Bangalore that was singular in India and one of the few in the world.

Discussions with engineers and scientists touched upon the numerous questions from different areas of life, because Svetoslav Roerich was interested in everything – science, art and culture, as the scientists noted. They felt Roerich’s high scholarship, versatility of his interests, keen intellect and, of course, the talent of the painter. Roerich showed his paintings to scientists and told what extensive knowledge of the field of painting, composition, biology, chemistry human must possess to create a work of art. But only if you constantly perfect yourself and acquire new knowledge you can become a real artist. As the scientists noted, Svetoslav Roerich in India was loved and well known as a famous painter, he was received in all stratum of society. Just Svetoslav Roerich was charged to write portraits of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and other famous political leaders of India, these portraits are in the Indian Parliament.

How the designers remember, the meetings were unusually warm and friendly, as the range of common interests in the fields of science, culture and public life was extensive. Designers of the rocket technology with Roerich were united with Space, because Svetoslav Roerich was not only an artist and scientist, but also an outstanding thinker of a cosmic scale.

The scientists wanted to return to the estate under Bangalore now and again, especially as because Svetoslav Roerich was always glad to see scientists, learn about the life at his native land and show them his new paintings.

The peak of the Interkosmos program was a series of astronauts′ flights from the member-countries of the program. It is obvious that if the Intercosmos program didn’t take place, astronauts from the member-countries of this organization could not go into orbit for a long time.

India became the seventh space power with the launch of its satellite with own launch vehicle in 1980. Four years later, in 1984, the first Indian astronaut Rakesh Sharma flied on a Soviet space vehicle Soyuz T-11 and visited the space station Salyut-7 on the Intercosmos program. The expedition returned to the Earth 11 April, 1984 after 7 days, 21 hours and 41 minutes in outer space. It was used a space vehicle Soyuz T-10 for this landing. As an astronaut and researcher, Rakesh Sharma carried out multispectral photography of northern India for the possible construction of hydropower stations in the Himalayas. During the Rakesh Sharma’ flight there was held a session of communications with Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. When Gandhi asked how India looked from space, Sharma said a string of patriotic poems: “The best in the world.”

After a long recess, the cooperation between Ukraine and India in the space industry is resumed, and scientific and cultural relations between these two countries in the 70 years of the twentieth century play a great role, of course.

In June 3, 2005 President of the Republic of India Abdul Kalam arrived with a working visit in Dnipropetrovsk. Delegation from India visited DB Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash. It turned out that Abdul Kalam has direct relation to satellites – he is a rocketmaker, in the 70 years he led the team of Indian professionals taking part in the development of the first Indian satellites by the Intercosmos program. Abdul Kalam passed his opinion that the time for India and Ukraine came to look farther space satellite programs, because there is a lot of interesting space projects in the field of peaceful space exploration in India, which are interest for such space power as Ukraine.

Currently India has advanced space program and is the sixth space power (after Russia, USA, China, EU and Japan) in the aggregate on the potential. India has its own manned space program and it is expected that in the 2014-2015 years it will start manned space flight by its own forces and will become the fourth space superpower.

In the article “About the Conception of National Space Program of Ukraine in 2007-2011” Professor, Director of the Regional Branch of the National Institute for Strategic Analysis in Dnepropetrovsk A.I. Shevtsov said: “. An example of India is illustrative for our conditions. Despite the burning socio-economic problems, the country accepted a course on accelerating development of domestic cosmonautics, rightly viewing in it as a driving force for development of national science and technology. The substantial increase in financing began in 1993, and in 1998 in India space system studies Earth’s natural resources (IRS) was created, which is one of the dominant in the world today.”

Experience in the development of space industry in India is convincing example of correct choice in line of country’s development, and this choice provides high rate of growth economy and science. Cooperation between Ukraine, Russia and India in the space industry, which is based on strong scientific and cultural connection, will provide possibility to find new ways of realizing in the scientific potential and consolidating the space industry of these countries at the international level.

• The Roerich Pact and the Banner of Peace as a Remarkable Phenomenon of the World Culture
Reports and Speeches at the International Social and Scientific Conference.
Delhi – Kullu – Shimla – Kalimpong October 22– November 5 2010


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