ISRO sent a lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan-1, on 22 October 2008, which discovered lunar water in the form of ice, and the Mars Orbiter Mission, on 5 November 2013, which entered Mars orbit on 24 September 2014, making India the first nation to succeed on its maiden attempt to Mars, as well as the first space agency in Asia to reach Mars orbit. On 18 June 2016, ISRO launched twenty satellites in a single vehicle, and on 15 February 2017, ISRO launched one hundred and four satellites in a single rocket (PSLV-C37), a world record. ISRO launched its heaviest rocket, Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III), on 5 June 2017 and placed a communications satellite GSAT-19 in orbit. With this launch, ISRO became capable of launching 4-ton heavy satellites into GTO. On 22 July 2019, ISRO launched its second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2, which consists of an orbiter, lander and rover, to study the lunar geology and the distribution of lunar water.
In 1950, the Department of Atomic Energy was founded with Bhabha as its secretary. The department provided funding for space research throughout India. During this time, tests continued on aspects of meteorology and the Earth's magnetic field, a topic that was being studied in India since the establishment of the observatory at Colaba in 1823. In 1954, the Uttar Pradesh state observatory was established at the foothills of the Himalayas. The Rangpur Observatory was set up in 1957 at Osmania University, Hyderabad. Space research was further encouraged by the government of India. In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 and opened up possibilities for the rest of the world to conduct a space launch.