Calling the launch of ISRO's 100th space mission "a milestone", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated the Department of Space and all members of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) fraternity for this spectacular success.
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I am delighted at having witnessed today's launch of India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle – C21, carrying two foreign satellites. On behalf of all fellow Indians, I warmly congratulate the Department of Space and all members of the Indian Space Research Organisation fraternity for this spectacular success. As ISRO's 100th space mission, today's launch is a milestone in our nation's space capabilities.
I would also like to congratulate EADS Astrium of France and Osaka Institute of Technology of Japan for the successful launch of their satellites. The launch of these satellites on board an Indian launch vehicle is testimony to the commercial competitiveness of the Indian space industry and is a tribute to Indian innovation and ingenuity.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the commencement of our space programme. I am also happy to see here today many stalwarts of our space programme in its earlier years, including the Project Directors of our initial space missions. Given the string of successes since then, we often forget how challenging space technology is and what a relatively new field it continues to be.
India is justly proud of its space scientists, who have overcome immense odds to set up world class facilities and develop advanced technologies. We owe a great deal to pioneers like Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and Prof. Satish Dhawan. I remember working closely with Prof. Dhawan when I was a Member of the Space Commission in the late 1970s, and I am privileged to have had this long association with our space endeavours. It is befitting that this new state-of-the-art mission control centre has been named after Prof. Satish Dhawan.
Questions are sometimes asked about whether a poor country like India can afford a space programme and whether the funds spent on space exploration, albeit modest, could be better utilized elsewhere. This misses the point that a nation's state of development is finally a product of its technological prowess. The founding fathers of our space programme faced a similar dilemma, but they persevered in pursuing their vision.
When we look at the enormous societal and national benefits that have been generated in diverse fields, there can be no doubt that they were right. Equally, I have no doubt that ISRO will build on these glorious traditions and scale still greater heights.
The ISRO community has always been a source of inspiration to our country through its quest for the stars. I wish all of you the very best as you continue the journey to push the boundaries of science and technology, and reap its benefits for society and for accelerated social and economic development of our great country. Jai Hind.