Chandrayaan-4’s backbone technology to be tested by ISRO: Know all about SPADEX mission

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is currently focusing on the advancement of technologies crucial for the upcoming Chandrayaan-4 mission. Following the success of Chandrayaan-3, which marked a significant achievement for India’s space exploration, Chandrayaan-4 aims to bring lunar rock samples back to Earth. The mission, set to launch later in this decade, will involve intricate spacecraft docking in orbit, a critical step in ensuring the safe retrieval of lunar samples.

To test the groundbreaking technology required for Chandrayaan-4, ISRO is undertaking the SPADEX (Space Docking Experiment) mission, which is currently in development. Although the launch date for SPADEX has not yet been finalized, the mission is making substantial progress in refining capabilities in orbital rendezvous, docking, and formation flying.

The SPADEX initiative consists of two IMS class satellites, each weighing 200 kg. This twin spacecraft system includes a Chaser and a Target, designed to perform precise orbital maneuvers. These advancements in human spaceflight and in-space satellite servicing enable proximity operations that are crucial for future space missions.

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre will carry out the launch of the SPADEX campaign. Both spacecraft will be injected into slightly different orbits, a critical aspect of the experimental mission.

The primary goals of the SPADEX mission include the demonstration of autonomous rendezvous and docking capabilities. One unique task involves using the Attitude Control System of one spacecraft to control the other while they are in a docked configuration. Additionally, the mission aims to showcase formation flying techniques and conduct remote robotic arm operations, which represent significant advancements in space technology.

The journey towards the realization of SPADEX began with preliminary studies in 2016. The project received approval from the Government of India in 2017, initially backed by a funding allocation of Rs 10 crore. In June 2019, ISRO sought proposals to explore remote robotic arm operations and related technologies on the PSLV fourth stage (PS4) orbital platform, further solidifying the mission’s development.

Currently, the SPADEX mission has received a substantial funding injection of around Rs 125 crore, highlighting the importance and commitment to advancing space exploration capabilities in India.

In addition to the SPADEX mission, ISRO has recently announced plans to launch India’s first International Space Station by 2028. This ambitious project will further expand India’s presence in space and open up new opportunities for scientific research and collaboration with other nations.

Furthermore, the inaugural solar mission, Aditya-L1, is scheduled to reach its destination on January 6. This mission, confirmed by the ISRO chairman, will provide valuable insights into the Sun’s behavior and help scientists better understand solar dynamics and its impact on Earth.

With these exciting developments, India’s space program is progressing rapidly, demonstrating its commitment to pushing the boundaries of space exploration and technology. The endeavors of ISRO continue to pave the way for future breakthroughs and advancements in the field of space science.

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