India’s ISRO Prepares To Launch Sun Mission – ‘Aditya L-1’ – After Historic Landing On Moon’s South Pole

KN Pandita and Ritu Sharma

On Wednesday, India became the only non-permanent UN member to land on the Moon. The successful touchdown of its mission on the uncharted South Pole of the Moon has given a tremendous boost to ISRO’s space ambitions. It is all set to launch its first space mission to study the Sun – Aditya L-1, in September 2023.

The PSLV-C57/Aditya-L1 Mission has already arrived at Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota and is slated for launch in the first week of September. The spacecraft will have seven scientific payloads to study different parts of the Sun from different angles.

ISRO chief S Somanath, while talking to reporters after Chandrayaan-3’s soft landing, said, “ISRO’s next mission is Aditya L-1 mission, which is getting ready at Sriharikota.”

The Aditya L-1 mission is a unique scientific feat for ISRO, akin to a ‘space observatory’ located at Lagrange-1 in the Earth-Sun system. Located 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth, Lagrange-1 gives an unfettered view of the Sun without occultation or eclipses.

Aditya L-1 is like a space telescope that will give a forewarning of solar storms that can potentially damage satellites and electrical grids. Solar storms entail sending out X-rays, electromagnetic waves, or high energy particles all across space, which can disrupt radio signals or GPS.

The other goal of the Aditya L-1 is to understand the impact of the Sun on the Earth’s climate.

Aditya L-1
Aditya L-1

After Aditya L-1, the ISRO intends to send its first crewed mission to space in 2025. “We are also planning a mission by the end of September or October to demonstrate our crew module and crew escape capability, which will be followed by many test missions until we launch our first manned mission to space (Gaganyaan), possibly by 2025,” the ISRO chief added.

Chandrayaan-3 has done what the Russian Luna-25 could not do, as the latter developed a snag before the touchdown. What distinguishes the ISRO’s moon mission is that its budget has been less than the Hollywood flick ‘Interstellar.’

Referring to ISRO’s failure to soft-land Chandrayaan-2 in 2019, Prime Minister Modi said that failure always teaches us how to succeed. While attending the BRICS summit in South Africa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a few minutes to watch the thrilling closing scene of the successful soft-landing of Chandrayaan-3.

As the machine touched the surface after 40 days of journey to escape the Earth’s gravitation and enter the Moon’s gravitational pull, the entire team of Indian scientists at ISRO was agog with joy. The Prime Minister addressed them, extolling their capability, dedication, and sense of service to the nation.

India has become the fourth nation in the world that has successfully soft-landed their satellites on the Moon’s surface. However, it is the first among the four to have planted the tricolor on the southern pole of the Moon, generally considered difficult and forbidding because of the existence of brig craters and its frigid climate to the tune of -200 degrees Celsius. More than four decades ago, the US satellite had made its maiden landing on the Moon, but then Washington almost decided not to send a satellite to the Moon anymore.

Because of the failure of Chandrayaan-2, the entire team of space scientists was somewhat skeptical about the success of Chandrayaan-3. This fear of repetition of failure made scientists exceptionally careful in identifying the causes of the failure of earlier efforts and consequently plugging all the loopholes that might have escaped their hawkish eyes while launching the Chandrayaa-3.

This is why, despite little skepticism, the scientists were hopeful of their ability to achieve the goal. The entire world was closely watching the journey of Chandrayaan-3 to its destination. The ISRO kept the nation and the world informed of every stage of the long and tedious journey of the satellite.

In his short address to the ISRO scientists, PM Modi rightly said that the day will be written in letters of gold in the history of free India. The Indian nation has a right to be proud of the laurels their scientists have won. First, they rejoice in pride that even from the smallest to the biggest component of the Chandrayaan-3, all were of indigenous make, thereby giving great credibility to PM Modi’s initiative of Make in Bharat and “Atamnirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India)”

The success of Chandrayaan-3 has become a source of inspiration for the entire nation and especially the technology-savvy segment of Indian society that nothing is impossible to achieve if the objective is of universal good and beneficial to all humanity.

The fact is that although the nation is on the right track of development through scientific and technological means, we still have a long way to go to become a nation that has banished poverty, ignorance, and injustice. We have to remove unacceptable discrimination among people and create the true semblance of Ram Rajya (Kingdom of God). If we make discoveries and inventions, that is fine and desirable, but the ultimate objective has to be the welfare of the people of this country.

We have seen a drastic change in India in terms of economy, governance, justice, and development. What we have achieved in the last decade is a strong incentive for our entrepreneurs, engineers, researchers’ business magnates, etc., to explore more avenues of employment, increase our stocks, and, above all, lift the standard of living of people in all walks of life. This is the age of science and technology, honest and fair business, cooperation and collaboration, and not confrontation.

In his message to the ISRO space scientists, the Prime Minister said that today’s success brings us some responsibility to extend cooperation to other nations in their struggle to alleviate their living standards. He urged that the benefits of lunar research should not remain confined to India.

He said that landing on the Moon does not mean we have achieved something and have no need to do more. He said we are already geared to survey the Solar system and have the blueprint of humans landing on the Moon. India would strongly support lunar tourism when the time comes because the preliminaries that have brought us success are strong incentives to conduct more research in the solar system.

The precision with which the scientists completed the mission also reminds us of the great advancement that ancient Indian astronomy had made throughout history. Voices have been raised occasionally to add Indian Astronomical science to the curriculum from early classes. While the journey of soft-landing of Chandrayaan-3 was underway, millions of Indians of all faiths attended their worshipping places to pray for the successful landing of the satellite.

As soon as the good news of the successful landing was announced, the country broke into an unprecedented, hilarious mood. Crackers went off, and groups of people thronged the streets and parks to dance to the beat of drums, merrymaking, dancing in colorful dresses, and playing musical instruments.

From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Kathiawar to Kolkata, there was no major town that did not go colorful. Some said that after Covid, for the first time, true happiness had come to them with this historic event. The soldiers in their barracks and posts danced and raised peals of laughter out of joy and superb achievement.

The President, Home Minister, and Defense Minister congratulated the scientists and the nation. This was our moment of pride. Dr Jitendra Singh, MOS in PMO, also in charge of ISRO, sat with the scientists throughout the anxious moments and gave them moral support.

India has paved the way to achieve a prestigious place among the world’s nations. This is because India’s fundamental foreign policy is based on the Vedic teaching ‘Vasudeva Kutumbakam’ –  The World Is One Family.