ISRO to launch Gaganyaan, Chandrayaan-3 in 2023, says Modi government
Chandrayaan-3, India's next lunar mission, and Gaganyaan, the country's first astronaut program, are two of the most prestigious missions of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). In a written reply to the Parliament, the Centre has now revealed that the missions will be launched in the first half and second half of 2023, respectively. Exploring space tourism opportunities is also on the agenda.
Why does this story matter?
India's space missions took a back seat in the last couple of years due to the pandemic. It seems that things are back on track now. Of the several things mentioned by the government, what caught the most attention was its words about space tourism. It will be interesting to see how the Centre navigates this nascent yet booming segment.
Chandrayaan-3 to be launched next year
Gaganyaan's first abort mission will take place in the later part of this year, said the Union Minister of State for Space Dr. Jitendra Singh. He also said that the mission is being carried out with an eye on space tourism. Meanwhile, Chandrayaan-3 and Aditya L-1, India's maiden mission targeting the Sun, will be launched in the first part of 2023.
ISRO had conducted Gaganyaan's pad abort test in 2018
Gaganyaan, India's maiden crewed mission, will have three astronauts inside the spacecraft. The planned abort demonstration test comes after the 'pad abort test' conducted in 2018. ISRO will use test vehicles to conduct the abort demonstration test. The Gaganyaan mission is expected to be launched by 2023-end. Earlier this year, the space agency conducted a static fire test of the spacecraft's boosters.
The Centre sees Gaganyaan as a precursor to space tourism
An interesting tidbit of the minister's reply in the Parliament was India's space tourism aspirations. The soon-to-be multi-billion-dollar market is an enticing proposition for any spacefaring nation. ISRO is developing indigenous capabilities for space tourism through the demonstration of human space flight capability to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The Centre is also seeking active participation from private players in the venture.
It is important to make space habitable: ISRO
ISRO chairperson S. Somnath confirmed that Gaganyaan will be launch-ready by the end of 2023. He said, "We hope that all our tests will go successfully and be able to meet the target by end of 2023." The top boss also emphasized the importance of making space habitable as he believes that there is no guarantee that life will not be extinguished from Earth.
Aditya L-1 will be placed at first Lagrange Point
Chandrayaan-3, the successor to the crash-landed Chandrayaan-2, will be launched in the first half of 2023. Another important mission set to embark on its journey around the same time is Aditya L-1. It will be positioned in the first Lagrange Point (L1) in space. It is set to study several properties of the Sun, including coronal mass ejections (CMEs).