India’s Year In Space In 2023: A Year In Historic Triumphs And Global Leadership

From Chandrayaan 3 to Aditya-L1, India has taken many steps for the betterment of its space program and has crossed many milestones, establishing itself as one of the leading countries with a space program.
India’s Year In Space In 2023: A Year In Historic Triumphs And Global Leadership
India’s Year In Space In 2023: A Year In Historic Triumphs And Global LeadershipFile Image

2023 has been a remarkable year for India’s space department. Including the historic launch of Chandrayaan 3 and Aditya-L1, India has taken many steps in betterment of its program and has crossed many milestones, establishing itself as one of the leading countries with a space program.

The third lunar mission by India, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) achieved the historic milestone of landing the Chandrayaan 3 lander, Vikram near the south pole of Moon on August 23. It’s a particularly grand achievement as no other country in the world has ever managed to land anything there due to the area’s hazardous nature. Subsequently, the rover, Pragyan, ramped down on the lunar surface. Over the next few days, several experiments, such as measurement of near-surface plasma content, presence of mineral elements, temperature profile of the lunar topsoil, etc. were conducted by the onboard payloads.

After the successful launch and landing of Chandrayaan 3, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visited ISTRAC, Bengaluru on August 23 to meet the ISRO Scientists behind the mission. Applauding their incredible efforts, the PM declared August 23 to be celebrated as National Space Day. He further announced the names of the site on the moon as Shiv Shakti point (Chandrayaan-3) and Tiranga point (Chandrayaan-2).

The triumphant launch of the second developmental flight of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), SSLV-D2 marked the beginning of India’s glorious year in space. It was successfully launched on February 10, 2023 from the first launch pad at Sriharikota. In its 15 minutes’ flight, SSLV-D2 injected EOS-07, Janus-1 and AzaadiSAT-2 satellites into 450 km circular orbit of Earth. Low in cost, swift turn-around time, and adaptable launch capabilities make the launch of SSLV-2 an incredible success in ushering a new era in satellite deployment.

On February 7, 2023, ISRO, along with Indian Navy carried out initial recovery trials of Crew Module in the Water Survival Test Facility (WSTF) of the Indian Navy, at Kochi. The trials were part of the preparation for crew module recovery operations for the Gaganyaan mission that will be carried out in Indian. As the safe recovery of the crew is the final step to be accomplished for any successful human spaceflight, it is of paramount importance and it has to be carried out with the minimum lapse of time. Hence the recovery procedures for various scenarios need to be extensively practiced by carrying out a large number of trials.

In March 26, India enjoyed ISRO's sixth consecutive success with LVM3, placing 36 OneWeb satellites in their designated 450 km circular orbit. With this, NSIL successfully executed its contract to launch 72 satellites of OneWeb to Low Earth Orbit.

In April, 2023 saw various advancements for Indian space sector. ISRO demonstrated the Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission (RLV LEX) on 2nd April, 2023 at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR), Chitradurga, Karnataka. This test emphasized ISRO's ability to autonomously land space re-entry vehicles with precision, marking a significant stride in reusable launch technology.

Approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security on April 6, the Indian Space Policy-2023 unveiled the government’s plan of letting the private sector in taking part in the entire value chain of the Space Economy by carrying out various space miaaions. The activities they will take part in include launching satellites and rockets into space to operating Earth stations.

PSLV-C55/TeLEOS-2 mission was successfully accomplished on 22nd April, 2023. This was a dedicated commercial mission through NSIL with TeLEOS-2 as primary satellite and Lumelite-4 as a co-passenger satellite. Both belonging to Singapor, The satellites weighed about 741 kg and 16 kg, respectively. They were launched into an Eastward low inclination orbit.

Next, on May 29, 2023. GSLV deployed the NVS-01 navigation satellite. NVS-01 is the first of the second-generation satellites envisaged for the Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) services. NVS series of satellites will sustain and augment the NavIC with enhanced features. This series incorporates L1 band signals additionally to widen the services. For the first time, an indigenous atomic clock will be flown in NVS-01.

During a ceremony at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington on June 21, 2023 India became the 27th country to sign the Artemis Accords. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson participated in the signing ceremony for the agency and Shri Taranjit Singh Sandhu, India’s Ambassador to the United States, signed on behalf of India. The Artemis Accords establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations, including those participating in NASA’s Artemis program.

On July 6 and 7, under India's G20 Presidency, the 4th edition of the Space Economy Leaders Meeting (SELM) was successfully organized by Department of Space. Splitting into two phases, the precursor event took place in Shillong, followed by the main event in Bangaluru. Deplomates from 18 G20 nations and 8 friendly countries participated in the event to discuss current issues and opportunities in global Space. Additionaly, 34 space industries from abroad and 53 Indian space industries actively participated and showcased their strengths.

ISRO successfully tested the Gaganyaan Service Module Propulsion System (SMPS) on July 19, 2023 at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) , Mahendragiri. This test involved five liquid apogee motor (LAM) engines with a thrust of 440 N and sixteen reaction control system (RCS) Thrusters with a thrust of 100 N. The Service Module of Gaganyaan is a regulated bi-propellant based propulsion system that caters to the requirements of the Orbital Module, performing orbit injection, circularization, on-orbit control, de-boost manoeuvring and SM based abort (if any) during the ascent phase. The 440 N Thrust LAM engines provide the main propulsive force during the mission ascending phase, while the RCS thrusters ensure precise attitude correction. ISRO successfully carried out two more hot tests on the Gaganyaan Service Module Propulsion System (SMPS) at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri on July 26, 2023.

The PSLV-C56/DS-SAR Mission was successfully conducted on 30th July, 2023. The DS-SAR satellite is developed under a partnership between DSTA (representing the Government of Singapore) and ST Engineering. Once deployed and operational, it will be used to support the satellite imagery requirements of various agencies within the Government of Singapore.

On September 02, 2023, Aditya-L1 spacecraft was launched. Aditya L1 is the first space based Indian mission to study the Sun. The spacecraft will be placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrange point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system, which is about 1.5 million km from the Earth. A satellite placed in the halo orbit around the L1 point has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation/eclipses. This will provide a greater advantage of observing the solar activities and its effect on space weather in real time. The spacecraft carries seven payloads to observe the photosphere, chromosphere and the outermost layers of the Sun (the corona) using electromagnetic and particle and magnetic field detectors. Using the special vantage point L1, four payloads will directly view the Sun and the remaining three payloads carry out in-situ studies of particles and fields at the Lagrange point L1, thus providing important scientific studies of the propagatory effect of solar dynamics in the interplanetary medium The spacecraft underwent a series of maneuvers and is currently on its way to the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 1(L1), having escaped the Earth's Sphere of Influence.

The first developmental flight of Test Vehicle (TV-D1) was successfully accomplished with the in-flight abort demonstration of the Crew Escape System (CES) on October 21, 2023 from FLP, SDSC, Sriharikota. In-flight Abort Demonstration of Crew Escape System (CES) at Mach number 1.2 with the newly developed Test Vehicle followed by Crew Module separation & safe recovery was successfully demonstrated. TV-D1 Crew Module was safely recovered from sea with the help of Indian Navy and transported back to ISITE, Bengaluru.

ISRO and Department of Space together has launched a Capacity Building Programme on "Geospatial Technologies and Applications" in tandem with objectives of National Geospatial Policy – 2022 on 21st November 2023. First phase of the capacity building programme on “Geo-spatial Technologies and Applications” was inaugurated by the Minister of State, Department of Space, Government of India, Dr. Jitendra Singh in the presence of Secretary, Department of Space Sri S. Somanath, Chairman, Capacity Building Commission Shri Adil Zainulbhai and other senior dignitaries. 58 Participants from 29 Ministries and Departments of Government of India and various State Governments underwent this one-week programme at RRSC – North, NRSC at New Delhi & NE-SAC, Shillong.

In 2023, Indain Space Department, led by ISRO has achieved remarkable milestones, solidifying its position as a global space leader. From Chandrayaan-3 to Aditya-L1 spacecraft to the inclusion of private enterprises, India’s space sector has witnessed unparalleled success, with each mission taking India to new heights.

India’s Year In Space In 2023: A Year In Historic Triumphs And Global Leadership
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