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Gaganyaan aborts mission this year; solar and lunar missions in 2023

The space agency’s third science mission scheduled for next year is the space observatory, XpoSat, designed to study cosmic X-rays. The first abort demonstration of ISRO’s Gaganyaan mission, however, is scheduled for later this year.

The Indian space agency announced in 2019 its intention to set up its own space station in “five to seven years” after successfully launching its first manned spaceflight mission. (Case)

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has set new deadlines for major missions, with its first solar mission and third lunar mission due to take place in the first quarter of next year. The space agency’s third science mission scheduled for next year is the space observatory, XpoSat, designed to study cosmic X-rays. The first abort demonstration of ISRO’s Gaganyaan mission, however, is scheduled for later this year.

Minister of State in the Space Department, Dr Jitendra Singh, wrote in a response to Parliament on Wednesday that ISRO would also conduct 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.

The Indian space agency announced in 2019 its intention to set up its own space station in “five to seven years” after successfully launching its first manned spaceflight mission. Then ISRO President K Sivan said it would be an extension of the spaceflight program, with the space station weighing about 20 tons and having the capacity to house astronauts for about 15 to 20 days in low earth orbit.

In his response to parliament, the minister also said that the first stage of the Gaganyaan mission will be undertaken in the last quarter of 2022 – this will be the first aborted demonstration mission. Abort missions are intended to test systems that can help the crew escape the spacecraft in mid-flight in the event of a failure. ISRO previously conducted an abort pad test – where the crew can escape the spacecraft in an emergency on the launch pad – in 2018.

For abort missions, the space agency has developed test vehicles capable of sending the systems up to a certain height, simulating a failure, and then checking the escape system. Gaganyaan’s escape system was designed with five “fast acting” solid fuel engines 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.

The three science missions scheduled for 2023 have been pushed back several times since 2020 amid the pandemic that has slowed all space agency activity, including the number of launches. There have only been two launches in 2020 and 2021. This year, the space agency has already carried out two launches, one carrying an Indian Earth observation satellite and the second a commercial launch carrying a Singaporean satellite. Earth observation as the primary payload.

The Aditya L1 mission will see an Indian spacecraft travel 1.5 million km towards the L1 or Lagrangian point between the Sun and Earth. There are five Lagrangian points between two celestial bodies where the gravitational pull of the two bodies on the satellite is equal to the force needed to keep the satellite in orbit without expending fuel, which means parking space in space. XpoSat will be India’s second astronomical observatory in space after Astrosat. It will help to study cosmic X-rays.

The Chandrayaan 3 will be a lander-rover mission that aims for a soft landing on the Moon 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 was calculated to have a lifespan of seven years and was launched in 2019.

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