Appointment of the new chairman of ISRO

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    In News 

    • Recently, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced the appointment of the eminent rocket scientist Dr S Somanath as its new chairman and Space Secretary. 

    About 

    • Dr Somanath is taking over the reins of ISRO at a critical juncture when sweeping reforms and critical missions are set to define the forward journey of the storied space agency.
      • He has played a major role in the development of the PSLV and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk-III (GSLV Mk-III)
      • He joined the GSLV Mk-III project in 2003 and served as Project Director from 2010 to 2014. 

    Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO)

    • About:
      • It was founded in 1969 to develop an independent Indian space program. Its headquarters are in Bangalore (Bengaluru). 
      • ISRO’s chief executive is a chairman, who is also chairman of the Indian government’s Space Commission and the secretary of the Department of Space.
    • Mission:
      • Design and development of launch vehicles and related technologies for providing access to space.
      • Design and development of satellites and related technologies for earth observation, communication, navigation, meteorology and space science.
      • Space-based Applications for Societal development.
      • Research and Development in space science and planetary exploration.
    • Milestone achieved: 
      • ISRO’s first satellite, Aryabhata, was launched by the Soviet Union on April 19, 1975. 
      • Rohini, the first satellite to be placed in orbit by an Indian-made launch vehicle (the Satellite Launch Vehicle 3), was launched on July 18, 1980.
      • ISRO has launched several space systems, including the Indian National Satellite (INSAT) system for telecommunication, television broadcasting, meteorology, and disaster warning and the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites for resource monitoring and management. 
    • ISRO subsequently developed three other rockets: the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for putting satellites into polar orbit, the Geostationary Space Launch Vehicle (GSLV) for placing satellites into geostationary orbit, and a heavy-lift version of the GSLV called the GSLV Mark III or LVM. 
      • Those rockets launched communications satellites and Earth-observation satellites as well as missions to the Moon (Chandrayaan-1, 2008; Chandrayaan-2, 2019) and Mars (Mars Orbiter Mission, 2013).
    • The Indian Space Association (ISpA) was launched to supplement the Centre’s efforts in commercial space exploration and space-based communication.
      • Various stakeholders in the Indian space domain with members comprising the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Bharti Airtel, One Web, Tata Group’s Nelco, L&T, MapMyIndia among others.
    • ISRO demonstrated free-space quantum communication over a distance of 300 metres.
      • The free-space communication using QKD (Quantum Key Distribution) was demonstrated at Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
    • The Indian Space Research Organisation’s customised space-themed merchandise programme in partnership with industry has taken off with multiple companies on board.
      • A person will be able to purchase authorised products connected to ISROs missions and work, such as scale models, T-shirts, mugs, space-themed educational games, science toys, and more.

    Upcoming Missions of ISRO 

    • Venus Mission:
      • The Shukrayaan-1 could launch in December 2024 as an orbiter headed towards the neighbouring planet Venus.
      • This will be the Indian space agency’s first mission to Venus and is expected to have a mission life of 4 years. 
        • The Venus orbiter will be launched on the rockets made by ISRO.
    • DISHA (Disturbed and quiet-type System at High Altitude):
      • It is a twin-satellite system that will study Earth’s aeronomy, the uppermost layer of Earth’s atmosphere.
      • It will involve twin satellites orbiting Earth at an altitude of 450km. 
    • TRISHNA (Thermal infraRed Imaging Satellite for High-resolution Natural resource Assessment):
    • ISRO and CNES have completed the feasibility study to realise the earth observation satellite mission with a thermal infrared imager, TRISHNA.
    • It is meant for accurate mapping of land surface temperatures.
    • It will acquire imagery of Earth’s surface in the thermal infrared with a resolution and revisit frequency never seen before.
    • Expected launch: In 2024
    • India and France are working on their third joint satellite mission. 
      • ISRO and French space agency CNES (Centre National dEtudes Spatiales) have undertaken two joint missions ‘Megha-Tropiques‘, which was launched in 2011, and ‘Saral-Altika‘ in 2013.
    • Chandrayaan-3: 
      • It could be set for a launch date by the middle of 2023 with huge progress in incorporating design and testing. 
      • It is the third Moon mission of the ISRO and the successor of the Chandrayaan-2 mission.
        • It involves various processes, including finalisation of configuration, subsystems realisation, integration, spacecraft level detailed testing and several special tests to evaluate the system performance on earth. 
      • Progress was hampered due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • Gaganyaan:
      • India’s first human spaceflight mission.
      • It is expected in 2023. 
      • The spacecraft is jointly made by ISRO and HAL.
      • It will carry three Indian astronauts to low earth orbit (of 2000 km or less) for a period of five to seven days.
    • Other Missions: XpoSat, IRNSS

    Significance

    • These missions are critical for ISRO as they will demonstrate India’s capabilities to make landings for further interplanetary missions.
    • These missions will be the benchmark for temperature data at best resolution and repeatability globally.
    • These will be technology demonstration missions with advanced indigenously developed technologies.

    Challenges

    •  One of the biggest challenges is putting the agency’s human space flight programme back on track following setbacks due to launch failures, the Covid-19 outbreak, and a general slowdown since the failure of the Chandrayaan 2 robotic moon landing mission in September 2019.
    • Constraints: ISRO has the scientific, technological, infrastructure and budgetary constraints in launching significantly more satellites to meet civilian, commercial needs and military requirements.  

    Way Ahead

    • India is advantaged by its comparatively low operating costs. Removing regulatory blockages will pave the way for increased FDI into the sector.
    • ISRO can pave the way for the commercialization of small satellites by the private sector. 
    • The space ecosystem should become more vibrant, economically viable and self-sustaining.

    Source: IE