ISRO’s Space Missions

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    • Recently, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has set new deadlines for various major missions.

    About the recent changes/ developments made

    • First solar mission and third lunar mission are set to take place in the first quarter of next year. 
    • XpoSat: this scientific mission is scheduled for next year.
      • The XpoSat will be India’s second astronomical observatory in space after the Astrosat.
      • It will help in studying cosmic x-rays.
    • ISRO’s Gaganyaan mission is scheduled for later this year.
      • It will be the first abort demonstration mission.
      • The abort missions are meant to test the systems that can help the crew escape from the spacecraft mid-flight in case of a failure.
      • ISRO already conducted a pad abort test where the crew can escape from the spacecraft in case of an emergency at the launch pad in 2018.
      • Gaganyaan’s escape system was designed with five “quick-acting” solid fuel motors with a high burn rate propulsion system, and fins to maintain stability.
      • The crew escape system will separate from the crew module by firing explosive nuts.
    • ISRO would also carry out a ‘space docking experiment’ in the third quarter of 2024.
      • Space docking is a process of joining two separately launched spacecraft and is mainly used for setting up modular space stations.
    • Aditya L1 mission: The Aditya L1 mission will see an Indian spacecraft going 1.5 million kms away to the L1 or Lagrangian point between the Sun and Earth.
      • There are five Lagrangian points between any two celestial bodies where the gravitational pull of both the bodies on the satellite is equal to the force required to keep the satellite in orbit without expending fuel, meaning a parking spot in space.
    • Chandrayaan 3: The Chandrayaan 3 will be a lander-rover mission that aims for a soft landing on the Moon that was planned for the second lunar mission.
      • The lander-rover will use the existing orbiter around the Moon from Chandrayaan-2 to communicate with Earth.
      • The orbiter has been calculated to have a mission life of seven years and was launched in 2019.

    Gaganyaan Mission

    • Aim: 
      • Gaganyaan is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft that is intended to send 3 astronauts to space for a minimum of seven days by 2022 (delayed due to COVID-19).
    • Launched by: 
      • ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk III (3 stages heavy-lift vehicle)
    • Components:
      • Consists of a service module and a crew module, collectively known as an Orbital Module (Crew Module carries astronauts & Service Modules carries propellants.)
    • LEO:
      • It will circle Earth at a low-earth-orbit at an altitude of 300-400 km from the earth for 5-7 days.
    • Vyom Mitra:
      • ISRO to send humanoid Vyommitra in unmanned Gaganyaan spacecraft ahead of human spaceflight (Monitoring module parameters).

     Issues/ Challenges

    • Delays due to COVID: All three scientific missions slated for 2023 have been repeatedly pushed back since 2020 amidst the pandemic that slowed down all activities of the space agency, including the number of launches.
      • There were only two launches in 2020 and 2021.
    • Constraints: ISRO has scientific, technological, infrastructure and budgetary constraints in launching significantly more satellites to meet civilian, commercial needs and military requirements. 
    • Deficit: ISRO has deficit issues both in technical capacity and manpower placing constraints on its production strength.
    • Foreign competition: Particularly for the launch of small satellites, which is an expanding market. The Elon Musk owned SpaceX Falcon 9 is widely considered a serious potential threat to ISRO’s workhorse the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). 

    Significance

    • These missions are critical for ISRO as it 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.

    Way forward

    • The space agency has already carried out two launches this year with one carrying an Indian earth observation satellite and the second a commercial launch carrying a Singaporean earth observation satellite as the main payload.
    • 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 commercialization of small satellites by the private sector. 

    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. 

    Source: IE