The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scripted history on 23 August 2023 as India became the first country to land a spacecraft near the Moon’s south pole.

Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander made a soft landing on the moon with the Pragyan rover rolling out, marking the beginning of 14 days of observations.

As Chandrayaan-3 explores the Lunar South Pole, India is set for much larger and more ambitious space programmes. Images: ISRO

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India will now focus on a mission to the Sun and Venus. “ISRO will soon launch the Aditya L1 mission for a detailed study of the Sun. Venus is also on the radar,” PM Modi said on Wednesday, 23 August.

After ISRO’s successful lunar mission, here are its next major missions:

Aditya L1: India’s mission to the Sun

This will be India’s first space mission to study the Sun and is expected to be launched in early September, according to ISRO chairman S Somanath.

“It has already been integrated and moved to Sriharikota,” Somanath told Hindustan Times.

“The spacecraft shall be placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrange point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system, which is about 1.5 million km from the Earth. This will provide a greater advantage of observing the solar activities and its effect on space weather in real time,” according to ISRO.


Image: NASA

ISRO has tied up with USA’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to put together an earth observation satellite.

According to ISRO, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) observatory will map the entire globe in 12 days and provide data that will help understand climate change, deforestation, earthquakes and volcanoes.

NISAR will track the movements of Earth’s land and ice surfaces in extremely fine detail. The satellite coming together in Bengaluru is expected to be launched in January 2024.

Gaganyaan: India’s first human space flight

Gaganyaan will demonstrate India’s human spaceflight capability by launching a crew of 3 members into space for 3 days.

The spaceflight will go to an orbit of 400 km and bring the astronauts back safely by landing in Indian sea waters.

There will be three dry runs conducted before the human mission. The first abort mission is expected to be conducted sometime this year and the manned mission will take place in 2024.

LUPEX: Lunar mission with Japan

Image: JAXA

ISRO is working with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on a Lunar Polar Exploration mission called LUPEX.

The mission will confirm the presence of water on the Moon and investigate the quantity and distribution on the lunar surface and below ground, and the form of the water.

A Japanese rocket will carry an Indian lander and a Japanese rover to the Moon. The mission is scheduled for 2025.

An X-ray polarimeter satellite XPoSat

XPoSat (X-ray Polarimeter Satellite) is India’s first dedicated polarimetry mission to study the dynamics of bright astronomical X-ray sources in extreme conditions.

“The emission mechanisms from various astronomical sources are challenging to understand. The polarimetry measurements add two more dimensions to our understanding, and thus is an excellent diagnostic tool to understand the emission processes from astronomical sources,” according to ISRO.