ISRO to launch Chandrayaan-4 to bring back samples from Moon in 4 yrs: Somanath

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing up to launch Chandrayaan-4 within the next four years, aiming to collect samples from the Moon, as detailed by ISRO Chairperson S. Somanath in the agency\’s Vision 2047.

The inaugural module of Bharatiya Antariksh Station, India\’s upcoming space station capable of autonomous experiments with robots, is slated for launch by 2028.

Under the influence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi\’s directive to establish a space station by 2035 and execute a lunar human mission by 2040, ISRO is pursuing these ambitious projects.

Despite the apparent temporal gaps, Somanath unveiled plans for a critical experiment, SPADEX, set to launch within the next three to four months. SPADEX aims to showcase autonomous docking capabilities, wherein two spacecraft precisely align in orbit and link up. The experiment involves launching interconnected satellites, separating them, traversing a few kilometers, and subsequently reconnecting.

While India has achieved successful lander and rover development for Chandrayaan-2 and Chandrayaan-3, Somanath stressed the need for advanced technology in a sample-return mission. This includes the creation of a robotic arm for sample collection, mechanisms for orbital docking around the Moon and Earth, sample transfer, and controlled re-entry into Earth\’s atmosphere.

ISRO is actively engaged in technological advancements for sustained human space presence. Initiatives include an inflatable habitat module for astronauts to conduct experiments and the innovation of satellites capable of refueling others in space. The ISRO Servicer Module, equipped with robotic arms, is being designed for maintenance and module replacement.

In achieving a prolonged space presence, ISRO is developing an inflatable habitat module and satellite technologies for refueling. The ISRO Servicer Module, featuring robotic arms, will address module maintenance and replacements.

While the initial space station module in 2028 can be launched using existing rockets, the complete station demands a heavier launch vehicle. ISRO is actively developing the Next Generation Launch Vehicle (NGLV), anticipated to carry 16 to 25 tons to low Earth orbit. Collaborative discussions are ongoing with NASA and the European Space Agency to establish a common interface among the Indian space station and those of other nations, fostering joint projects and potential collaboration. The common interface may facilitate docking between the Indian module and the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS, developed collaboratively, is expected to be de-orbited in 2030.

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