For those of you who are space fanatics, you might agree that Hollywood, with movies like ‘Armageddon’, ‘The Martian’ among many others, has taken the opportunity to glorify the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to the best of its abilities. And rightly so! Although the films are fictional, it doesn’t deny the fact that NASA, for all that it has achieved and continues to achieve, has set a precedent world over for its international space missions. But it is worth noting that NASA isn’t the only space agency that has achieved the impossible.
In the newly born Independent India, merely 22 years after achieving freedom, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was established on August 15, 1969. Since then, ISRO has left no stone unturned in developing space technology and acing it. This brilliant team of India’s brightest minds has worked towards the application of its technologies to a variety of national needs.
ISRO has set up two major space systems which form the basis of our country. One is INSAT for communication, television broadcasting and meteorological services, and the other is, the Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS) system for resources monitoring and management. It has also developed two satellite launch vehicles, PSLV and GSLV, to place these two systems – INSAT and IRS satellites – in the required orbits.
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With India’s 75th Independence Day around the corner, it is time that we as a nation collectively highlight and reflect on the marvels that The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the pioneer of. It has time and again proved its mettle when it comes to space exploration. Let’s dive into ISRO’s three most important upcoming missions.
Gaganyaan is the most important mission in the history of ISRO and you will be proud to know that the reason it is so is because it is going to be India’s first manned mission to space. ISRO will first launch two unmanned missions into space ahead of the manned trip. The launch isn’t too far and it will probably happen in 2023. The purpose of deploying uncrewed missions is to demonstrate and test the technology, safety, and reliability of systems before the crewed flight. To explain it in scientific terms, the objective of this mission is to demonstrate an indigenous capability to undertake human space flight mission to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
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Everything about this mission is going to be 100% Indian. The overall co-ordination, systems engineering, and implementation will be completely carried out by ISRO. Further, essential technologies like crew module configuration, crew escape system, and orbital module among others will be developed and tested by ISRO with the help of in-house expertise and participation of industrial, academic, and national agencies. Even the private players of the country are very much going to be a part of it. Some of the major partners that are collaborating for the Gaganyaan mission include the Indian Armed Forces, Indian Meteorological Department, Defence Research Development organisation, Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, Shipping Corporation of India, National Institute of Oceanography, CSIR Labs, and National Institute of Ocean Technology.
Budget and Significance:
The total budget of this mission is a whooping Rs 9,023 crores. If the mission is successful, it is not just going to be a matter of immense pride for India, but also lead to a significant advancement in science, technology, and industry. First of all, it is going to be a big step towards developing a sustained and affordable programme to explore the solar system. There is going to be ample scope for generating employment in advanced science and R&D activities. The mission will without a doubt strengthen international partnerships and global security. After all, if India has a human spaceflight programme, it can be definitely leveraged as a potent foreign policy tool. And lastly, of course, inspiring the youth of our country. A manned space mission is one of a kind opportunity to steer many students towards building a career in science and technology.
2. Aditya – L1
This is the first Indian mission to study the Sun. Let’s first decode the meaning of Aditya – L1. A satellite will be placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 because that way the satellite can continuously study the Sun without any eclipses. Lagrange Points are basically the points that are positioned in space, where gravitational forces of a two-body system produce enhanced regions of repulsion and attraction. Now this L1 point is about 1.5 million km from the Earth, and hence the mission has its own set of challenges. ISRO’s Aditya L1 mission was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, it now plans to launch it in the first quarter of 2023.
Budget and Significance:
The allocated cost for the mission is around Rs 378.53 crore, and this excludes the launch costs. The significance of this mission lies in the fact that if successful, ISRO would be able to predict the storms coming from the Sun. It is of course important for us to study the Sun’s weather and environment as it is the parent star of the solar system. Once Aditya – L1 is launched, it will help in studying the effects of variation in the Solar Weather System. These variations can lead to changes in satellites’ orbits, damage onboard electronics, and also lead to power cut-offs here on Earth. So as one can gather, it is extremely important that ISRO hits the jackpot this year with the launch of Aditya – L1.
Considering the fact that Chandrayan-2 did not succeed in 2019, it is all the more reason for us to cheer ISRO in its attempt to make Chandrayaan-3 a success. Chandrayaan-3 is ISRO’s third lunar exploration mission, the objective of which is soft-landing on the Moon. The mission will likely use a repeat of the parts from Chandrayaan-2 mission. The lunar orbiter had been successful, but the Vikram lander had failed to make a soft landing just above the lunar surface. Due to this last-minute crash, Pragyan rover couldn’t be deployed. If the Vikram lander had performed as intended, India would have become the first nation to have successfully landed on the moon in its very first attempt.
Union Minister Jitendra Singh had in February this year stated that based on the learnings from the failure of Chandrayaan-2 and suggestions made by some national level experts, the realisation of Chandrayaan-3 is in progress. He further informed that many related hardware and their special tests had been successfully completed. The launch of Chandrayaan-3 is scheduled for the first quarter of 2023.
Budget and Significance
The budget of the mission is approximately Rs 615 crores. Since this is going to be ISRO’s second attempt to demonstrate soft landing on the moon, it is needless to say that the mission is highly significant for India. If successful, Chandrayaan-3 will make India only the fourth country to successfully soft-land on the moon, after Russia, the United States, and China. It is planned to be launched in the first quarter of 2023. Earlier this year, the rocket that will be used for the launch of the spacecraft was declared ready and currently awaits the module.