Tamil Nadu encounters the first fatality of the Delta Plus variant of Covid-19. Be safe and alert. Still the pandemic exists. In this blog, we continue our discussion on ISRO.
After the successful launch of Chandrayaan 1, in November of 2013, ISRO launched Mangalyaan 1 to Mars and the rocket was a success. It entered Martian orbit in September of 2014. India became the first country to enter Martian orbit in the first attempt. Mangalyaan mission was initially planned to last 6 months, but it has completed 5 years of orbiting Mars and will continue for some more time. ISRO completed the entire mission at a record low cost of $74 million. Whereas Martian missions completed by NASA costed hundreds of millions of dollars. For example, the Mars Odyssey mission costed $297 million and the MAVEN mission costed $671 million and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter costed $720 million. When compared Mangalyaan 1 was literally almost 1/10 of the cost of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. ISRO has made massive strides when it comes to reducing the cost of space missions, but they are just getting started.
In future, ISRO plans to launch Aditya L1 to the Sun in 2022 (India’s first solar mission), Gaganyaan to observe the Sun in 2022, Shukrayaan 1 to Venus in 2023, and Mangalyaan 2 to Mars in 2024. Also ISRO planned for a mission to Jupiter. Looking forward, the future of ISRO looks very bright as their budget continues to increase year after year. ISRO’s budget has tripped over just the last 10 years. This is in contrast to NASA whose budget peaked 50 years ago. At the end of the day, it is obvious that ISRO is one of the most advanced space organisations in the world. They are not quite on the level of SpaceX when it comes to cost efficiency but they are magnitudes ahead of other Government funded space organisations. Considering their growth, it is just a matter of time until ISRO places humans in orbit and eventually on the Moon and Mars.
Gaganyaan is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft intended to be the formative spacecraft of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme. The spacecraft is being designed to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be equipped with rendezvous and docking capability. In its maiden crewed mission, ISRO’s largely autonomous 5.3 t (12,000 lb) capsule will orbit the Earth at 400 km (250 mi) altitude for up to seven days with a two or three-person crew on board. The crewed vehicle was originally planned to be launched on ISRO’s GSLV Mk III in December 2021, but this has since been delayed to no earlier than 2023. On 11 June 2020, it was announced that while the first uncrewed Gaganyaan launch has been delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic in India, overall timeline for crewed launches is expected to remain unaffected.
When ready to land, its service module and solar panels will be disposed off before reentry. The capsule would return for a parachute splashdown in the Bay of Bengal. The parachutes would reduce the speed of the crew module from over 216 m/s to under 11 m/s at splashdown.