Aryabhatta was India’s first satellite, named after the great Indian astronomer of the same name.
It was launched by the Soviet Union on 19 April 1975 from Kapustin Yar using a Kosmos-3M launch vehicle. It was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to gain experience in building and operating a satellite in space.
On 19 May 1975 the satellite’s 96.46-minute orbit had an apogee of 611 kilometres (380 mi) and a perigee of 568 kilometres (353 mi), at an inclination of 50.6 degrees. It was built to conduct experiments in X-ray astronomy, aeronomics, and solar physics. The spacecraft was a 26-sided polyhedron 1.4 metres (4.6 ft) in diameter. All faces (except the top and bottom) were covered with solar cells. A power failure halted experiments after four days in orbit with all signals from the spacecraft lost after five days of operation. The satellite reentered the Earth’s atmosphere on 11 February 1992. The satellite’s image appeared on the reverse of Indian 2 rupee banknotes between 1976 and 1997 in some prints.