It’s always been a curious thing for everyone to know much about the universe. Many countries have their own space agencies to research and analyse our mysterious universe. Two of the most leading space agencies among them are ISRO of India and NASA of the US. Both of them have many similarities as well as differences in their administration.


The Indian Space Research Organisation famously known as ISRO is the space agency of Government of India headquartered at Bengaluru city. It was founded by Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai who is regarded as “Father of India’s space programme” on 15 August 1969. After its induction, ISRO headed many successful space missions performed by the government of India. Dr K Sivan is the present Chairman of ISRO.


NASA or National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent branch of the Federal government of the United States of America. It is headquartered at Washington DC in the United States. It was established on 29 July 1958 by Dwight D Eisenhower. Charles Bolden is the present administrator of NASA.


  • NASA is a space administration agency whereas ISRO is a research agency.
  • NASA manages/administers all space projects by buying the materials needed for the construction of satellites and rockets from outside agencies whereas ISRO develops rockets and satellites all by themselves in their organisation and its subsidiary organisation.
  • NASA has an annual budget of $1218.34 billion whereas ISRO has an annual budget of $90.94 billion (estimated).
  • NASA has launched over 200 successful manned missions and above 1000 successful unmanned mission still date in which 2 of the manned missions were unsuccessful. The Challenger disaster in 1986 and Columbia disaster in 2003 were the two missions which ended in a failure paying lives of all crew members on-board including Indian origin Kalpana Chawla (Columbia). At the same time, ISRO has carried out 84 spacecraft missions, 59 launch missions till date in which 8 have been failures and 4 were partially successful.
  • Most of the first launches by NASA were successful whereas most of the first launches by ISRO were a failure. But, ISRO scientists fixed those problems and then those systems performed exceptionally well.
  • NASA is mostly based on research-oriented missions whereas ISRO is mostly based on development-oriented like communication, weather forecasting satellites etc.
  • NASA’s technologies are highly advanced when compared to the technology used by ISRO. For example, the cryogenic technology used by NASA for Apollo mission was used by ISRO in late 1980s.



  • NASA has carried out many successful missions like Pioneer, Voyager, Spitzer, Cassini-Huygens, Chandra, Viking, Hubble, Apollo etc.


  • ISRO has carried out several successful missions in which Chandrayaan-1, Mangalyaan-1, Cartosat, PSLV-C37 etc. Among the list, the launch of PSLV C37 tops the list by creating a record by launching 104 satellites from a single rocket.


By the way of working and administration, NASA and ISRO have different approaches. Some of them are:

  • Most of the projects undertaken by NASA are in collaboration with many countries and space agencies. At the same time, India is single-handedly executing their projects.
  • There are many Indians who are working for NASA along with members from other countries. It clearly means that NASA absorbs talented fellows from here and provide them with better opportunities and facilities. ISRO at the same time has the majority of its workforce as Indian citizens.
  • While considering the success rate of any mission, ISRO tops the list. PSLV launched by ISRO has a success rate about of 93%.
  • ISRO’s Mangalyaan mission/ Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) had a total expenditure of around $74 million while the MAVEN mission by NASA for Mars had a total expenditure of $672 million. With this, India set the record for the least-expensive Mars mission to date. It costs only 11% of NASA’s Mars orbiter’s cost.


  • Chandrayaan-1 played an important role in the ISRO-NASA joint discovery of water molecules on the moon surface which was unattained by any previous missions for the moon. This will boost the joint ventures of the two space agencies.
  • The NASA-ISRO Mars Working Group was established to investigate enhanced cooperation between these agencies in Mars exploration in future.
  • The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar or NISAR satellite is a joint venture to provide a detailed view of Earth by using advanced radar imaging. It is expected to be launched from India by 2020 or 2021. It is considered as world’s most expensive Earth Monitoring Satellite.
  • Recently, ISRO has joined with NASA for space research programs to discover new galaxies, Exoplanets, Stars etc.


NASA’s motto is “To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind” whereas ISRO’s motto is “Our vision is to harness space technology for national development, while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration.” From these, it is clear that the vision and mission of both the agencies are entirely different. But when they cooperate with each other in upcoming projects in future, it may be possible to discover many hidden mysteries in our universe.