ISRO To Launch Space Docking Experiment Later This Year


ISRO has a couple of space missions lined up for the decade including the Gaganyaan mission, Chandrayaan 3 mission, and more. Also, the space agency will be launching satellites for various purposes this year. Among these things, ISRO will be propelling a 'split up and unite' satellite, one of the unique proposals of 2020.


unique ISRO satellite

The unique ISRO satellite will be splitting up and then reunited in space. Dubbed as the SPADEX or Space Docking Experiment, ISRO says it will be crucial for the future space missions, including the manned Gaganyaan mission. This satellite will also be pivotal for the future Indian space station project.



A report by TOI notes that ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said, "the satellite we will launch will have two components. It will be separated into two pieces and then they will get docked into a single piece." He also said this is was indeed a very crucial technology, where the single unit will function as a full-fledged satellite.

Of course, the challenges for such a spacecraft are many. For one, the docking needs to be automatic and many of the functions will need to handled by a robot. In addition to it, there will also be a challenge of managing the speeds of the two spacecraft, if not, it could result in a destructive collision.

Purpose Of SPADEX

Purpose Of SPADEX

The idea is certainly intriguing. The immediate goal that ISRO has in mind is to enable the refueling of spacecraft to give it a longer lifespan in space. At the same time, if ISRO succeeds, it could also transfer crucial systems, equipment, and other necessities to a spacecraft. That's not all, ISRO has a bigger ambition to move human astronauts from one spacecraft to another.

The success of the SPADEX mission will allow ISRO to access data regarding the space rendezvous technology, where two spacecraft can find each other and continue to remain in the same orbit. It would be an important requirement for India's program to construct a space station.



Sivan also said that the premier space agency is concentrating on missions like the Gaganyaan, Aditya-L1, and Chandrayaan 3. This means that the space station will take a while to get cemented. The Vikram Sarabhai Space Center is working on rendezvous and docking of SPADEX. The technology will also be crucial for international participation, and so on.

"To achieve docking during the final phase of the mission, the relative position and velocity of the target spacecraft and chaser spacecraft and chaser spacecraft has to be brought to zero," he said. The Chairman also noted that the split up and unite satellite will be ready by mid-year, "but then we have a lot of tests to be done". The experimental satellite launch might happen towards the end of the year.

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