ISRO’s Space Journeys

ISRO’s Space Journeys

News: Recently, ISRO’s (Indian Space Research Organisation) Chandrayaan 3 lander has successfully made a soft landing on the lunar surface.

Background:
• Chandrayaan-3 is India’s third lunar mission and India has become the fourth country to soft land on the Moon after the United States, the erstwhile Soviet Union, and China and the first to touch down near the lunar south pole. 

Below we look at the History of ISRO’s successful space journey – Satellites, Launch Vehicles, Planetary Exploration

ISRO’s satellite programs
• Aryabhata (1975) - ISRO’s journey began with the launch of Aryabhata in 1975. It sought to conduct experiments in X-ray astronomy, aeronomics, and solar physics.
• Bhaskar-1 (1979) and Bhaskar-2 (1981) - It laid the foundation for the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) Satellite system, revolutionizing land-based applications.
• INSAT-2A (1992) - Indian National Satellite System (INSAT), a series of multipurpose geostationary satellites that aimed to meet the telecommunications, broadcasting, meteorology, and search and rescue needs of India.
• KALPANA-1 (2002) - It was the first in the series of exclusive meteorological satellites built by ISRO.
• IRNSS-1A (2013) - Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) or NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) is India’s first dedicated navigation satellite.

Launch Vehicle Programs
• US Nike Apach (1963) - India launched the US Nike Apache ‘sounding rocket’ from Thumba, near Thiruvananthapuram. Sounding rockets are suborbital rockets that carry experiments to the upper atmosphere of the Earth.
• SVL-3 (1980) - The first Indian launch vehicle succeeded, placing the Rohini-1 satellite in space.
• Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (1992)
• Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (1994) - PSLV achieved its maiden successful launch, marking India’s entry into the league of launching bigger payloads, up to 1,000 kg. Chandrayaan-1 rode a PSLV rocket in 2008, as did Mangalyaan.
• Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (2014) - The experimental flight of the third-generation GSLV (Launch Vehicle Mark-3) with an indigenous cryogenic engine was successful.
• LVM-3 carried the GSAT-19 satellite into space, showcasing its capabilities for launching heavier payloads into geostationary orbits. It has also launched Chandrayaan-2, and Chandrayaan-3.

Planetary Exploration
• Chandrayaan-1 (2008), Chandrayaan-2 (2019), Chandrayaan-3 (2023) and Mangalyaan (2013).

What are ISRO’s future missions?
• LUPEX (Lunar Polar Exploration) - ISRO is collaborating with the Japanese space agency, JAXA, on the LUPEX mission which aims to explore the polar regions of the Moon, including the permanently shaded areas, and investigate the abundance of water. ISRO is going to provide the lander for this mission.
• Aditya-L1 – Mission to Study Sun.
• Venus Orbiter and Gaganyaan.

What needs to be done from here?
After the success of Chandrayaan-3 mission, the expectation bar has raised for India, ISRO and other stakeholders to do better. Some of the things that need due attention are as follows:
• While emphasizing on the merits of Frugal engineering, we must continue to think bigger with bigger budgets, more powerful rockets that can transport payloads quickly. For example, Luna 25 of Russia reached faster than Chandrayaan-3.
• Seek increased Private sector participation in the space domain. For example, Tata Consulting Engineers Limited (TCE) engineered the solid propellant plant, the vehicle assembly building and the mobile launch pedestal in Chandrayaan-3.
• Promote international collaboration in space exploration. Joining the Artemis accords was the right step in that direction. 

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