In 2023, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had a stellar year with impressive achievements. Let’s take a look at some of its key accomplishments.
In February 2023, ISRO achieved a significant milestone with the successful launch of SSLV-D2, the second developmental flight of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV). SSLV is a three-stage vehicle with its solid propulsion stages and liquid propulsion-based Velocity Trimming Module (VTM), designed to launch mini, micro, or nano satellites into a 500 km planar orbit. The key design drivers include low cost, low turn-around time, flexibility in accommodating multiple satellites, launch-on-demand feasibility, and minimal launch infrastructure requirements.
March witnessed the sixth consecutive successful flight of LVM3, a testament to ISRO’s efficiency. During this mission, ISRO placed 36 satellites for the OneWeb Group Company. OneWeb is a global communication network powered from space, and India’s Bharti Enterprises serves as a major investor and shareholder. The successful deployment of these satellites in their intended 450 km circular orbit with an inclination of 87.4 degrees bolstered OneWeb’s efforts in enabling connectivity for governments, businesses, and communities.
April brought another triumph with the Reusable Launch Vehicle Autonomous Landing Mission (RLV LEX). This test, conducted at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR), Chitradurga, Karnataka, showcased ISRO’s capability to autonomously land under conditions simulating a space re-entry vehicle’s high-speed, unmanned, and precise landing. The successful execution demonstrated advancements in reusable launch technology.
In April, PSLV-C55/TeLEOS-2 marked a dedicated commercial mission for NewSpace India Limited (NSIL). TeLEOS-2, a Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite, served as the primary satellite, while Lumelite-4, a Technology Demonstration nano-satellite, was the co-passenger. This mission highlighted ISRO’s commitment to international collaborations and showcased the adoption of the “Integrate, Transfer and Launch (ITL)” concept using the PSLV Integration Facility (PIF).
May witnessed the accomplishment of GSLV-F12/NVS-01, a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) mission. This mission deployed the NVS-01 navigation satellite, weighing about 2232 kg, into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit. NVS-01 is the first of the second-generation satellites envisaged for the Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) services, incorporating L1 band signals and featuring an indigenous atomic clock.
July brought historic achievements with the launch of Chandrayaan 3, India’s third lunar mission. The Vikram lander successfully touched down on the lunar surface on August 23, making India the first country to land near the lunar South Pole and the fourth to achieve a controlled lunar landing. The lander and rover entered sleep mode after completing 10 days of lunar exploration, while the propulsion module continued orbiting the moon.
PSLV-C56’s launch in July carried the DS-SAR satellite, a joint project between DSTA (representing the Government of Singapore) and ST Engineering. Developed under a partnership, DS-SAR carries a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). This allows DS-SAR to provide all-weather day and night coverage, imaging at 1m-resolution at full polarimetry, catering to the satellite imagery requirements of various agencies within the Government of Singapore.
September witnessed the launch of Aditya L1, India’s first space-based mission to study the Sun. Positioned in a halo orbit around the Lagrange point 1 (L1), Aditya L1 marked a significant leap in solar research. The spacecraft, situated approximately 15 lakh km from Earth, offers an unobstructed view for real-time monitoring of solar activities and their impact on space weather, contributing to a deeper understanding of the Sun’s dynamics.