SPADEX: Explained: SPADEX, the Chandrayaan-4 technology to be tested by ISRO

In retrospect, the year 2023 will be remembered as a momentous year for India’s advancements in space exploration. From the successful Chandrayaan-3 mission to the launch of the Aditya L1 sun mission, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has achieved remarkable feats. With these accomplishments behind them, ISRO is now focused on future missions, including the launch of Chandrayaan-4 and the testing of associated technologies.

One particularly significant experiment related to the upcoming moon mission is SPADEX. This experiment is part of the Chandrayaan-4 mission, which aims to bring lunar rock samples back to Earth. The mission, scheduled for launch later this decade, will require the spacecraft to perform an in-orbit docking, a critical step in safely retrieving the samples.

To ensure the success of this docking maneuver, ISRO is developing SPADEX, short for space docking experiment. This twin spacecraft mission will test technologies related to orbital rendezvous, docking, and formation flying. The launch date for SPADEX is yet to be finalized, but the mission is estimated to cost Rs 124.47 crore.

The Chandrayaan-4 mission consists of two satellites, each weighing 200 kg: a Chaser and a Target. One satellite will attempt to dock with the other, marking significant advancements in human spaceflight, in-space satellite servicing, and other proximity operations. The mission will be launched aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

In addition to testing autonomous rendezvous and docking capabilities, the SPADEX mission aims to demonstrate the control of one spacecraft using the Attitude Control System of the other while in a docked configuration. It will also showcase formation flying techniques and conduct remote robotic arm operations.

The Indian government approved the SPADEX project in 2017, initially providing a funding of Rs 10 crore to support its development.

Overall, the SPADEX experiment and the Chandrayaan-4 mission represent significant milestones in India’s space exploration journey. These ventures not only pave the way for future lunar missions but also contribute to advancements in human spaceflight and satellite technology. As ISRO continues to push boundaries and explore new frontiers, the nation’s achievements in space continue to inspire and captivate the world.

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