Sources – Indiandefensenews

ISRO will conduct between five to six orbit-raising manoeuvres. Chandrayaan-3 landing is projected to take place around August 23. Successful completion of this mission will place India among an exclusive club

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said that the Chandrayaan-3 mission is cruising smoothly in space and is on schedule to reach the Moon by August end.

ISRO successfully completed the third orbit-raising manoeuvre on Tuesday, with the next firing planned for Wednesday between 2:00-3:00 pm.

Over the next two weeks, the Indian space agency will conduct between five to six similar orbit-raising manoeuvres to gradually spiral the spacecraft outwards in increasingly elongated ellipses. The speed of the propulsion module will steadily increase until it reaches the escape velocity necessary to break free from Earth’s gravity, enabling it to enter a Lunar Transfer Trajectory (LTT) and set a course towards the Moon.

The landing is projected to take place around August 23, completing the journey over a period of three weeks. Successful completion of this mission will place India among an exclusive list of countries that have achieved a soft landing on the Moon, including the United States, the erstwhile Soviet Union, and most recently, China.

But, that is not all, India Today’s Open Source Investigations (OSINT) team continues to monitor India’s progress in the field of space exploration and here’s what all India is working on.

Maiden GAGANYAAN Mission

ISRO’s ambitious launch of India’s maiden human spaceflight mission, Gaganyaan, has been delayed from 2022 to a tentative date of no earlier than 2025. However, the first unmanned flight test is expected to begin in August.

The spacecraft is planned to carry Vyommitra, a spacefaring human-robot developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation. Described as a half-humanoid, Vyommitra can bend sideward and forward and will conduct specific experiments while remaining in constant contact with the ISRO command centre.

The Gaganyaan project aims to demonstrate India’s human spaceflight capability by launching a crew of three members to an orbit of 400 km for a mission lasting 5-7 days. The safe return of the crew, with a landing in the Indian Ocean, is a primary objective.

ISRO has achieved several milestones for the Gaganyaan project, including Cryogenic Engine Stage (C25) qualification tests, static tests of the Crew Escape System, and the integrated main parachute airdrop test. The test vehicle for the characterisation of the Crew Escape System is also prepared at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR).

ADITYA L-1 To Study The SUN

ISRO is preparing for its first scientific expedition to study the Sun with Aditya L-1, scheduled for August this year. Aditya L-1 will be ISRO’s second space-based astronomy mission after AstroSat, launched in 2015.

The spacecraft will be placed in a Halo orbit around the Lagrange Point-1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system, approximately 15 lakh km from Earth. Being in the halo orbit around L1 enables continuous observation of the Sun without any occultation or eclipses, providing valuable insights into solar activities and their impact on space weather. Lagrange points result from the gravitational forces of a two-body system, such as the Sun and Earth, producing enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion.

Aditya-L1 will be launched using a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket. Similar to Chandrayaan missions, the spacecraft will initially be placed in a low earth orbit and subsequently launched towards L1 using onboard propulsion. The total travel time from launch to L1 is estimated to be about four months.

The mission carries seven payloads, with four conducting remote sensing of the Sun and three performing in-situ observations.

Joint NISAR Mission With U.S.

The NASA-ISRO SAR (NISAR) Mission aims to measure Earth’s changing ecosystems, dynamic surfaces, and ice masses through Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) analysis. This joint mission will enable monitoring of volcanic eruptions, groundwater supplies, ice sheet melt rates, and shifts in vegetation distribution worldwide by tracking subtle changes in Earth’s surface.

NISAR will provide high-resolution observations of global surface changes, which haven’t been possible before in terms of both space and time resolution. It will play a crucial role in monitoring seismically active zones like the Himalayas, using two frequency bands to create a “deformation map” every 12 days, offering advanced warning of land subsidence and areas at high risk of earthquakes.

NISAR, with an estimated cost of $1.5 billion, is the world’s most expensive satellite and the first to operate on dual frequency. Its launch is scheduled for January 2024. The 2,800 kg satellite features both L-band and S-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) instruments, making it a dual-frequency imaging radar satellite.

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MANGALYAAN-2 Planned For Mars

Mangalyaan-2, India’s second interplanetary mission and the second mission to Mars will consist of an orbital probe equipped with a hyperspectral camera and a radar. The planned lander for this mission has been cancelled.

India’s first mission to Mars, Mangalyaan-1 or Mars Orbiter Mission, successfully reached the planet’s orbit. The launch vehicle, spacecraft, and ground segment cost Rs 450 crore, making it one of the most cost-effective missions to Mars.

After the success of the Mars Orbiter Mission, India has also set its sights on exploring Venus. Although the United States, the European Space Agency, and China have planned missions to Venus, India’s tentative mission named Shukrayaan, initially planned for 2024, may be postponed to 2031 due to pending approval from the government.

SPADEX (Space Docking Experiment)

SPADEX (Space Docking Experiment) is another noteworthy Indian technology mission by ISRO, demonstrating the autonomous docking of two spacecraft in orbit. This long-running internal project has received a funding boost of Rs.10 crore out of the sanctioned Rs.124.47 crore to showcase the capability of autonomous rendezvous and docking.

Successful docking is essential for building a space station with multiple modules working together, facilitating future human interplanetary missions and spacecraft refuelling in orbit.