THE INDIAN SPACE RESEARCH ORGANISATION (ISRO) HAS MULTIPLE MISSIONS IN THE PIPELINE
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set ambitious goals for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), including: Establishing a space station by 2035: The space station will be called the “Bharatiya Antariksha Station”: Sending the first Indian to the Moon by 2040
ISRO, which has its eyes set on multiple big missions — in-orbit servicer, lunar sample return mission, docking in space (SPADEX), Mars Lander Mission etc — is looking to launch at least 2 more missions this year. While SPADEX is key to India’s ambitions of establishing a space station by 2035 as envisioned by the PM, lunar sample return missions will be critical in finally putting humans on Moon, for which the PM has set a 2040 goal. The ‘lunar hop’ by Chandrayaan3 Vikram is seen as a precursor for the sample return mission, which will still need a lot of work. ISRO chief S Somanath told me: “Aside from these, there’ll be specific committees looking at various missions as part of the goals set by PM.” reported TOI.
PSLV, GSLV Launches
He added that the space agency is targeting November-December for at least two more launches, one of its workhorse, the PSLV, and the other, the GSLV MK-II. “The PSLV will launch Xposat and also have POEM carrying scientific and commercial payloads onboard. We’ll announce these features soon. The GSLV will launch the Insat3DS, which is almost ready. The vibration tests have begun today (Friday),” Somanath said.
Xposat is India’s first dedicated polarimetry mission to study various dynamics of bright astronomical X-ray sources in extreme conditions, while Insat-3DS is a weather satellite built as part of the Indian National Satellite System to provide meteorological services. However, the GSLV MK-II launch is also important for ISRO as it gets the rocket ready for the $1.5 billion NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR), a LEO observatory being jointly developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and ISRO.
“NISAR is undergoing full integrated tests. There are antenna, acoustics, full-scale tests, etc that will have to be carried out. We will be ready for launch by the first quarter of next year,” Somanath said Once launched — Jan-March 2024 — & put into the intended orbit, it’ll take 90 days for NISAR’s science ops to begin. The synthetic aperture radar (SAR) payloads mounted on integrated radar instrument structure (IRIS) and the spacecraft bus are together called an observatory. The observatory will map the entire globe in 12 days & provide spatially & temporally consistent data for understanding changes in Earth’s ecosystems, ice mass, vegetation biomass, sea-level rise, groundwater & natural hazards.
“It will carry L and S dual band SAR — the first dual frequency radar imaging mission in L-Band & S-Band using an advanced technique to provide space-borne SAR data with high repeat cycle, high resolution, and larger swath,” according to ISRO.