India is planning to launch 32 space missions in 2019, a top space official said. “The year 2019 promises to be challenging to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) community with 32 planned missions,” its chairman K. Sivan said. The missions include the second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 to land on the moon with lander and rover. The Rs 800-crore lunar mission will the 25th from the second launch pad of the space port at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, about 90km northeast of Chennai. India’s maiden human space mission in 2021-22, Gaganyaan, will also be pursued this year, Sivan said in a first-of-its-kind New Year message from the space agency top executive to its staff. “Gaganyaan activities will go in full steam to accomplish the various development and qualification milestones,” the Chairman said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of Gaganyaan on August 15 last year has allowed the space agency to fulfill its dream of undertaking a human spaceflight programme, Sivan said. The pad abort test held on July 5, 2018 to test the escape system of the crew module has given ISRO confidence to pursue the human space mission, he added. The space agency is also aiming to re-instate its microwave remote sensing capability through the Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT) series and hopes to attain geo-imaging capability through Geo Imaging Satellite (GISAT) series.
“The country will meet the high throughput bandwidth requirement of Digital India and also in-flight connectivity with the launch of GSAT-20,” Sivan said. The space agency will enhance remote sensing data for crop production estimation to cover 10 additional crops and provide inputs for water and energy security. “It is planned to improve the payload capability of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and its variants,” he added. Marking the birth centenary of the founding father of India’s space programme, Vikram Sarabhai, ISRO will host a year-long celebration from August 12, with national and international events such as fellowships, scholarships at universities. Recounting the year gone by, Sivan said 2018 had many firsts for ISRO, which undertook 16 missions, of which seven were accomplished in 35 days.