2024: A Busy Year for Indian Science with ISRO’s Human Spaceflight Trials and Deep Ocean Exploration

India is gearing up for a series of ambitious space missions in the coming year, including sending humans to space and returning lunar samples to Earth. The country’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has scheduled test flights for both projects in the new year. In addition to space exploration, India is also delving into deep-sea research. The country plans to send aquanauts up to 6,000 meters deep in the ocean aboard the “Samudrayaan,” with the first mission to 500 meters scheduled for March.

Kicking off the new year, ISRO is set to launch the X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) on January 1. The satellite’s mission is to explore the sources of X-Rays and study the mysterious world of black holes. Following this, the Aditya L-1 satellite will be launched on January 6, with the goal of studying the sun for the next five years from the Lagrange Point-1, a position in space that provides an uninterrupted view of the sun.

ISRO is also collaborating with NASA on a $1.2 billion project to launch the NISAR satellite, the most expensive Earth imaging satellite ever created, to study climate change. This comes after a successful year for ISRO, highlighted by the launch of the “Chandrayaan-3” mission which successfully landed near the moon’s south pole and delivered a rover to explore the lunar surface.

The upcoming year will also see two unmanned missions under the “Gaganyaan” project to test the launch vehicle and orbital module in actual flight. ISRO is targeting a 2025 launch date for sending an Indian astronaut to space. In addition to these ambitious projects, ISRO’s commercial arm, NewSpace India Limited, successfully launched 72 satellites of OneWeb, a satellite internet provider backed by Bharti Enterprises, into low-Earth orbit.

The private space sector in India is also making strides. Skyroot Aerospace and Agnikul Cosmos are preparing for their first commercial launch in 2024. Bengaluru-based Pixxel, known for its hyper-spectral imaging satellites, aims to launch a constellation of 24 satellites by 2025.

The Indian government has also approved India’s participation in international science projects, such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the Indo-US collaborative Fermilab initiative. Moreover, India announced plans to build another research station, “Maitri-II,” in Antarctica and flagged off its maiden winter expedition to the Arctic.

In summary, India is poised for a busy year in space and deep-sea exploration, with a series of ambitious projects lined up. These initiatives reflect the country’s commitment to advancing scientific knowledge and technology, and position India as a major player in global space research and exploration.

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