India's First Nuclear Reactor

India's First Nuclear Reactor

India's First Nuclear Reactor was Apsara. It was also the first nuclear reactor in Asia. Apsara went critical at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay on August 4, 1956. It heralded the arrival of India's nuclear energy programme. Dr. Homi Bhabha himself conceptualised the design of the reactor and the reactor was built entirely by Indian engineers in a record time of about 15 months.

Apsara is a swimming-pool-type reactor loaded with enriched uranium as fuel. The fuel core is suspended from a movable trolley in a pool filled with water. The pool water serves as coolant, moderator and reflector, besides providing the shielding.

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India's First Indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle

SLV-3 was India's first indigenous satellite launch vehicle. The vehicle was launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on July 18, 1980. President A P J Abdul Kalam was the Project Director of SLV-3 The SLV-3 weighed 17 tonne and had a payload of 40 kg. The SLV-3 put 35 kg Rohini Satellite into the orbit. The launch of SLV-3 was a historic landmark for the Indian space programme. It gave ISRO an insight into the conceptualisation, design, development and management of a technically complex multi-disciplinary project. With the launch of SLV-3, India joined a select band of five nations that had this capability. The other five countries are USSR, USA, France, China and Japan.

First Satellite Launched by India

Aryabhatta was the first satellite launched by India. It was named after the great Indian astronomer of the same name. Aryabhatta weighed 360kg and was launched by the Soviet Union on April 19, 1975 from Kapustin Yar using a Cosmos-3M launch vehicle.

The satellite had following objectives:
1. To indigenously design and fabricate a space-worthy satellite system and evaluate its perfromance in orbit.
2. To evolve the methodology of conducting a series of complex operations on the satellite in its orbital phase.
3. To set up ground-based receiving, transmitting and tracking systems.
4. To establish infrastructure for the fabrication of spacecraft systems.

Aryabhatta carried experiments related to X-Ray Astronomy, Solar Physics and Aeronomy. The satellite re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on 11 February 1992.

First Nuclear Power Plant in India

Tarapur Atomic Power Station (T.AP.S.) was the first nuclear power plant in India. The construction of the plant was started in 1962 and the plant went operational in 1969. The 320 MW Tarapur nuclear power station housed two 160 MW boiling water reactors (BWRs), the first in Asia. The Tarapur Plant was originally constructed by the American companies Bechtel and GE, under a 1963 123 Agreement between India, the United States, and the IAEA. The Tarapur Atomic Power Station is under the control of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited. Recently, two 540 MW pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) were operationalised at Tarapur. The new reactors were constructed by L & T and Gammon India. Tarapur Nuclear Power Station is the largest PHWR-based power station in India.

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