INDIA: ISRO’s first solar mission was pushed from early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as per the reports, the solar mission is likely to be launched in the third quarter of 2022. India’s second space observatory ‘Xposat’ will also be launched during that time.
‘Xposat’ is aimed at helping astronomers study cosmic sources such as pulsars and supernovas. ‘Xposat’ will be launched aboard a small satellite launch vehicle which is currently in the development phase. The new launch vehicle is likely to have its first development flight by December this year. ISRO qualifies a launch vehicle to be mission-ready after two successful development flights.
At a conference this week, the Director of the human spaceflight centre, Dr. Unnikrishnan Nair, said, “The solar mission Aditya L1 will be launched in the third quarter of next year (2022) and will provide more insights into the origin of the universe and many other unknowns.”
“Xposat will allow us to study the polarisation of celestial events. It will be launched by an SSLV which is under development. The first development flight will be by the end of this year. Academicians are looking forward to the data generated from this mission,” said Nair.
The spacecraft in the Aditya L1 mission will be sent 1.5 million km away from the Earth to L1 Lagrangian. It is a point between the Earth and the Sun where the gravitational pull of both the bodies on the satellite is equal to the centripetal force needed to keep the satellite in orbit. ‘Xposat’ is a dedicated Indian polarimetry mission to study various dynamics of astronomical sources in extreme conditions
Simply, it is like a parking area in space and is great for observing several phenomena without hindrances from eclipses.
The SSLV, which is being developed for the commercial launch of small satellites, costs only ₹30 crores. The SSLV can be assembled by a team of six scientists within seven days.
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the number of launches ISRO could undertake in 2020 and 2021. Before the pandemic, the space agency had planned for 20 launches in the financial year 2020-21 including ‘Xposat’. This also included the first unmanned flight under the Gaganyaan mission. The Gaganyaan mission is also likely to be undertaken by the end of 2022 or in early 2023.