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The race to space has just begun. Every other day, rockets, satellites, and rovers are being launched by governments and private organisations, including Roscosmos or NASA across the globe to push ahead and make their mark in space. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has likewise been making several breakthroughs in developing space technology—with missions planned for the decade and beyond.
As of October 26, 2022, India has launched about 381 satellites for different countries, including USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Sweden, and others.
Here’s a list of missions announced by ISRO, some of which are set to launch next year, and some before 2030.
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With plans to launch by mid-2023, Gaganyaan-3 is ISRO’s first manned mission to space. It is being manufactured in collaboration with DRDO and HAL. The mission starts with sending two unmanned test-flights, Gaganyaan 1 & Gaganyaan 2, before launching its three-manned satellite. The development for the satellite started back in December 2014.
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With a total expected budget of nearly INR 12,400 crore, the objective of the mission is to demonstrate the indigenous capabilities of undertaking human space flight missions on Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
This is India’s first mission for solar observation. The satellite will be placed around the Lagrangian point 1—which is approximately 1.5 million km from Earth—to dodge all kinds of eclipses and study the solar corona with the help of a solar chronograph. It is expected to launch in March 2023.
If the mission becomes successful, ISRO would have the ability to predict storms coming from the Sun and study the Solar Weather System. The budget for the mission is estimated to be INR 378 crore, excluding launching costs.
Expected to launch around June 2023, Chandrayaan-3 is the successor of Chandrayaan-2, which had failed due to a last-minute glitch in soft landing guidance. As the name suggests, it is a lunar exploration mission to be launched at Satish Dhawan Space Centre with Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM) rocket and will consist of a rover, an orbiter, and a lander.
With a budget of approximately INR 615 crore, Chandrayaan-3 will make India the fourth country to soft-land on the moon successfully.
A space observatory to study polarisation of cosmic X-rays, ‘XPoSat’ is planned to be launched in the second quarter of 2023 on a Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV). The mission will last for five years to study approximately 50 brightest sources in the universe and gauge the radiation from each of them.
With a grant of INR 95 crore, the project began in September 2017. The satellite is set to study the pulsars, active galactic nuclei, black hole X-ray binaries, and non-thermal supernova remnants.
A Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite, ‘NISAR’, is a joint project between NASA and ISRO. The mission is to launch a dual-frequency SAR on an Earth observation satellite—the first of its kind. The estimated cost for this project is nearly $1.5 billion and the satellite is expected to launch by January 2024.
This satellite will be used for remote sensing to understand the natural processes of the Earth like the Arctic and Antarctic cryosphere. It will be launched from India on a GSLV Mark II and the planned mission life is three years, orbiting synchronously with the Sun.
Otherwise known as the Mars Orbiter Mission 2 (MOM 2), Mangalyaan 2 is ISRO’s second interplanetary mission to launch to Mars between 2021 and 2022. The mission will include a panchromatic camera, a radar, and a hyperspectral camera to understand early stages of Mars.
With a duration of around one year, the mission is expected to be launched in 2025. Following MOM-2, ISRO has also proposed MOM-3 in 2030, with the objective of soft landing of a rover near the Eridania Basin, a theorised ancient lake on Mars.
Another interplanetary mission by ISRO, Shukrayaan-1 is a planned orbiter to Venus. The objective is to study the atmosphere and surface of Venus. This will also include studying the solar irradiance and solar wind interaction with the ionosphere. The mission is planned to be launched in December 2024 on a GSLV Mark II.
The mission was proposed in 2012 and the Government of India allocated and increased funds for the Department of Space in 2017–18. ISRO has shortlisted proposals to include collaborations with France, Sweden, Germany, and Russia for the mission.
As a successor to AstroSat-1—whose operation ended in 2020—AstroSat-2 is India’s second multi-wavelength space telescope and is expected to propel the study of astrophysics and astronomy. ISRO made the announcement of the opportunity in February 2018, seeking proposals from all institutions to further research and development in the field.
The key functions of these satellites include studying neutron stars, black holes, binary star systems, and star berth regions. The AstroSat-1 is managed by the spacecraft control centre of ISRO’s Mission Operations Complex (MOX).
LUPEX, also known as Chandrayaan-4, is a lunar robotic mission in collaboration with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The objective is to send a lander and rover to explore the south pole of the moon by 2025. JAXA is providing the H3 launch vehicle and the rover, and ISRO will be building the lander.
In 2019, NASA also discussed the possibility of joining the mission. JAXA proposed in its website that its aim is to obtain ground truth data for quantity of water and also the quality of lunar water.