Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has a load full of launches/missions planned for 2024. While it is targeting one launch/mission every month, there is a possibility that it could exceed more than 12 during the year.

“In 12 months (in 2024), we have to have a minimum of 12 missions. That’s our target. It may exceed depending upon our ability to produce hardware, complete the testing and if things go well. If it is not going well, there could be an impact. Otherwise, we are getting ready for at least 12-14 missions,” ISRO Chairman S Somanath told newspersons after the successful launch of XPoSat mission to study black holes.

“We have an exciting time ahead. There are going to be two commercial PSLV missions scheduled for NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO.

The reusable launch vehicle landing experiment done last year needs to be now demonstrated under more severe conditions. “We are planning two landing experiments in 2024 with different conditions to validate its extremity handling capacity. This is yet another flight. Then, we have to do a scramjet test demonstration. We did a few years back using hydrogen as a fuel. However, with kerosene as a fuel, we are going to test the scramjet now. That vehicle is undergoing testing in the ground and we are going to have the scramjet tests in sounding rockets this year.

On India’s maiden solar mission Aditya-L1 that launched on September 2, Somanath said it is set for its final manoeuvre to reach its intended destination L1 point on January 6. Aditya-L1 will reach its L1 point on January 6.

The year 2024 is going to be a year for Gaganyaan readiness. The Gaganyaan manned mission is targeted for 2025. The Gaganyaan mission started with the TV-D1 mission or the abort mission conducted in October 2023 There will be three abort mission demonstrations; at least one unmanned mission. Helicopter based drop tests to prove the parachute systems for the unmanned mission will also be conducted.

“We will have the launch pad abort tests and hundreds of such valuation tests including environmental control support system tests, the crew module related tests, simulation tests. So it is going to be a Gaganyaan year,” he said.

During the year, there will be the launch of GSLV for NISAR. There will also be the first flight of GSLV with INSAT-3DS that will happen soon. The launch vehicle is almost ready, he said.

Somanath invited start ups, entrepreneurs and students across the country to come and host their payloads on-board PS4 (fourth stage) in the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for experimenting and trying out new ideas, he said.

The PS4 is the uppermost stage of PSLV consisting of two Earth storable liquid engines.

Explaining the orbit change and passivation, Somanath said the mission was at 650 km 6 degree orbit inclination, and ISRO could have done the POEM experiment at the same orbit. However, as a responsible space agency, it was decided to bring the fourth stage to a lower orbit so that its life of the stage in the orbit was much less and debris is not created in the process. That’s why it was brought down to 350 km, and in that orbit the experiments will be carried with payloads.

The entire platform of POEM is going to be stabilised using coal-gas thrusters which have worked the last time very well. “We are looking at the orbital change that will happen by two firing of the engines and also bringing it to 350 km circular orbit. After that the POEM experiment will start. Our expectation is that the whole process of testing will be over in a very short time and will be able to declare the POEM payload successfully in a course of one month,” he said.

Somanath said the POEM payload has its own power generation capability like solar cells, batteries and its own computers and commanding system. It is almost like a full fledged space craft supporting all of you to conduct experiments at a low cost.

“It is once again an invitation to start ups, entrepreneurs and students across the country to come and host your payloads on-board PSLV 4 stage for experimenting and trying out new ideas,” he said.

Kulasekarapatinam launch pad

On Kulasekarapatinam launch pad in Tamil Nadu, Somanath said its design completed, and the formal commencement of construction will happen soon, this year.