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ISRO presents its space program for the 2020s

- News from May 21, 2019 -

The Indian space agency ISRO has performed at its best despite a very limited budget. It succeeded in a moon mission and a Mars mission. A second mission to the moon will be more ambitious in July 2019 than the first lunar mission leaving, it will use an orbiter, a lander and a small rover. This mission is called Chandrayaan-2. However, this is only one step in ISRO's very ambitious plans.

At a conference in mid-May 2019, officials from the Indian space agency discussed their goals for the 2020s. Space observatories, planetary exploration and manned space flights are on the program.

ISRO is preparing seven important scientific missions for the next decade

Starting in 2020, the Indian space agency will put an X-ray observatory called XPOSAT into orbit. For five years, the satellite will monitor around 50 potential sources to determine their polarization.

In the same year, ISRO will launch the Aditya-L1 solar observatory, which will orbit Earth at the L1 Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system. Equipped with seven scientific instruments, it will help Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter to better understand the acceleration of solar winds and the high temperatures of the solar corona.

Then ISRO wants to send a new space probe in orbit around Mars, probably in 2022 or 2023. Mangalyaan 2 could be developed in cooperation with France. Like the European TGO mission, Mangalyaan 2 will orbit by flight brake, but will not land on the planet Mars.

One or two years later, ISRO Shukrayaan 1 starts its first exploration mission of Venus. Here, too, cooperation with France is being investigated. The spacecraft will focus on what is happening on the surface and in the atmosphere of Venus.

For the next lunar mission called Chandrayaan-3, ISRO will work with JAXA. This mission is likely to go to the moon in 2024. She will be particularly interested in the water at the poles of the moon.

The last spacecraft that ISRO is preparing is certainly the most puzzling. Exo worlds should start in 2028. Very little information is available on this mission, but we believe it is certainly an observatory dedicated to exoplanets.

India's first manned space flight will be in 2021 or 2022

In parallel to this busy robotics program, ISRO will conduct its first manned space flights relatively quickly. In the past ten years, ISRO has developed the Gaganyaan spacecraft. Fully automated, Gaganyaan should be able to embark three people into orbit for a week. An atmospheric re-entry test was successfully completed in 2014. In July 2018 the rescue tower of the spaceship was successfully tested.

The first orbital flight of this spacecraft could take place at the end of 2020, and an unmanned test should follow a year later by a manned flight. India would then be the fourth nation that could send people into orbit on their own. If this succeeds, it would pave the way for orbital stations, and perhaps India too will enter the race to return man to the moon.

Before that, ISRO must pass the Chandrayaan-2 mission in orbit and on the surface of the moon. This will be the first attempt to land a rover in the lunar South Pole region coveted by the Chinese and Americans. It can be an opportunity to get close to a crater and its precious water ice.

Image by ISRO


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