India's Major Space Missions of 2020

Resilience is the ultimate weapon when it comes to starting new ventures, especially in the face of failure and this is exactly what the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) stands for. On Wednesday, ISRO chief K. Sivan announced that there are more than two dozen missions planned for the year 2020, which is quite ambitious and brave, considering the recent failure of ISRO in landing Chandrayaan 2 on the surface of Moon.

Although on the surface what ISRO does has already been done by other space agencies before, it is becoming a pioneer on the cost compression front. Last year, Chandrayaan 2 caught the eyebrows of the whole world because of its super low budget and there is a full possibility that the next mission could be even cheaper.

Major 2020 missions

Gaganyaan – the Indian attempt at sending humans to outer space

The Gaganyaan Mission, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2018, is a 10,000 crore Indian human space flight scheduled for 2022. Till now, it was speculated that the Gaganyaan would have 3-7 crew members spending 3-7 days in outer space, but the latest update that four pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) will leave for Russia in the third week of January to receive training as astronauts for Gaganyaan cleared the mist around that.

In 2020, the first of the two pre-Gaganyaan flights will be launched with a humanoid and some 6-7 micro-gravity experiments will be carried out.

Chandrayaan 3 – a reattempt aimed at achieving redemption

ISRO has quietly begun its work on another lunar soft-landing mission which will have most of the same features as that of Chandrayaan 2. The launch of the 600 crore Chandrayaan 3 is targeted by the end of 2020 or early 2021. According to Dr. K. Sivan, it will be a repetition in terms of configuration of the spacecraft, the landing spot and the experiments to be carried out on the surface of the moon. The Chandrayaan 3 lander and rover are estimated at Rs. 250 crore and will travel to moon on a propulsion model. The GSLV Mark III vehicle will cost Rs. 350 crores. The work is underway in this mission and it will be interesting to see whether India can successfully land on the moon in its second attempt or not.

Realising the technology for soft-landing on planetary bodies

ISRO is undertaking this mission because the landing module of Chandrayaan 2 crashed barely 5 minutes before it was expected to make a soft-landing on the lunar surface.

The Tamil Nadu Government has started the acquisition of 2300 acres of land in the Thoothukudi district for ISRO’s second launch port. Currently, the satellites are launched from the Sri Harikota launch centre in Andhra Pradesh.

India’s position as a cost-cutting pioneer

ISRO, through its previous and ongoing missions has established itself as a leader in achieving objectives in a cost-effective manner. It has achieved aero spatial cost compression on various fronts. For example – ISRO uses gravitational forces to the maximum extent in order to save propulsion fuels. It has also given itself a distinct edge in the commercial arena of satellite launch services. With such a valuable and effective base of expertise, it is expected that new domains in the space industry emerge and the space arena gets privatised.

The road ahead and possibilities

India can strengthen its position in the space industry by capitalising on the present advantages and overcoming the challenges that are existent. A policy framework can be put in place to enable private participation in the sector by the government and ISRO can play a consultative role in the same. This would help India get ahead in the space race as various private players would be vying for a majority in this sector.

Space militarization is highly controversial, but USA and China have already entered the arena and with global instability on the rise, India can strengthen its defences by making space force as a potential fourth arm of the country’s defence setup. By undertaking a defence project that enables India to have the necessary technologies to thwart and deter novel forms of enemy actions, India can meet various security challenges.

In conclusion, as 2020 unfolds, India needs to pay more attention to space competitiveness. The fact that Indian efforts have been cost conscious should be beneficial for us and can give us that differentiating factor that we need. With adequate efforts, we can transform India into a nation that is known for its tryst with outer space!

Written by - Prateek Bansal

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India's Major Space Missions of 2020 India's Major Space Missions of 2020 Reviewed by EMN on January 06, 2020 Rating: 5

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