While during the Cold War the USA and the former Soviet Union competed alone for conquering space, nowadays the new space race that already shapes up involves many more countries, and NASA and Roscosmos are both working hard to keep up with the other space agencies. In the most recent announcement coming from ISRO (India Space and Research Organization), the Indians revealed that the first Indian solar mission would launch in 2020.
At the moment, ISRO is focusing on India’s second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, that would take off on July 15th if everything goes as planned. Chandrayaan-2 is an improved lunar probe of the Chandrayaan-1, the first Indian mission to the Moon, which launched about ten years ago.
But ISRO wants more, and the space agency plans to launch a solar mission in 2020 to compete with NASA’ Parker Solar Probe that was the first one in history to get the closest to the Sun to study our star’s corona and its processes.
India to launch its first Solar mission in 2020
Next year, in 2020, ISRO plans to launch the first Indian solar mission, known as Aditya-L1. “The mission aims to keep a permanent eye on the sun without any disturbance. Aditya-L1 is meant to observe the solar corona. There are still a lot of things that are to be learned about the Sun,” stated ISRO’s Chairman K. Sivan, during a conference in New Delhi.
Aditya-L1 won’t beat the record of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, and it would only be an observational space probe that would orbit the Sun from a distance of 1.5 million km away from Earth, from the so-called Lagrangian point 1 (L1). The advantage of that trajectory would be that the first Indian solar mission would always observe the Sun without occultations.
But there’s more! ISRO won’t set only for Chandrayaan-2 and Aditya-1. The Indian space agency also works on its own space station that could be launched to Earth’s orbit as soon as 2030. While India’s first solar mission would be an excellent achievement for the Indian scientific community, the first Indian space station would be the “jewel in the crown” for India’s space program.