1Introduction to Satellites and their Applications

The word ‘Satellite’ is a household name today. It sounds so familiar to everyone irrespective of educational and professional background. It is no longer the prerogative of a few select nations and not a topic of research and discussion that is confined to the premises of big academic institutes and research organizations. It is a subject of interest and discussion not only to electronics and communication engineers, scientists and technocrats; it fascinates hobbyists, electronics enthusiasts and to a large extent, everyone.

In the present chapter, the different stages of evolution of satellites and satellite launch vehicles will be briefly discussed, beginning with the days of hot air balloons and sounding rockets of the late 1940s/early 1950s to the contemporary status.

1.1 Ever-expanding Application Spectrum

What has made this dramatic transformation possible is the manifold increase in the application areas where the satellites have been put to use. The horizon of satellite applications has extended far beyond providing intercontinental communication services and satellite tele-vision. Some of the most significant and talked about applications of satellites are in the fields of remote sensing and Earth observation. Atmospheric monitoring and space exploration are the other major frontiers where satellite usage has been exploited a great deal. Then there are the host of defence related applications, which include secure ...

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