Launch 2020: India’s Flight Rate Declined Due to COVID-19, but Nation Moved Forward with Commercialization

PSLV-C50 lifts off with the CMS-01 satellite. (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s growing space program managed only two domestic launches last year as it was forced to delay the Gaganyaan human spaceflight program and several other high profile projects.

However, India was able to move forward last year on a sweeping commercialization of its state-controlled space industry designed to make the country internationally competitive.

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ISRO Chairman K Sivan Lays Out 10 Year Plan for Indian Space Program

Dr. K Sivan (Credit: ISRO)

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — In the future, when we look back upon the year 2020, we will be reminded of the trials and tribulations caused in our official as well as personal lives, owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Notwithstanding this situation, huge quantity of work progressed in virtual mode in design and development of systems.

Gaganyaan & Chandrayaan-3 major technical issues were addressed. The concept of virtual LCC and SCC got evolved and implemented. In fact, this mode of work appears to be more efficient and can be the new normal. Even where field work was involved, the activities were completed with minimum travel and social distancing.

And thanks to the dedicated and hardworking personnel, who carried on the torch of progress and made sure that we complete two hugely successful launches by the end of the year. These achievements, even during hard times, in the face of financial & human resource constraints, is truly commendable and speaks volumes about the resourcefulness of team ISRO.

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ISRO Chairman Given 1-Year Extension of Term

Dr. K Sivan (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO Chairman K Sivan has been given an one-year extension to his term, postponing his planned Jan. 14, 2021 retirement date.

Sivan, 63, was appointed ISRO chairman in January 2018. He joined ISRO in 1982 and previously served as director of the space agency’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre.

In an interview with the Times of India, Sivan said he would do his best to move the Gaganyaan human spaceflight program toward a crew launch by the August 2022 deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Other priorities include continuing the ongoing commercialization reforms of the Indian space industry and fast tracking the launch of the Chandrayaan-3 lunar landing mission.

ISRO Confirms Chandrayaan-3 Lunar Landing Mission

Chandrayaan-2 rover (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO Chairman K. Sivan confirmed the Indian space agency will launch a new lunar lander and rover to replace the ones that crashed as part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission last year. The BBC reports:

He said the country was aiming to launch the mission in 2020 but that it “may spill over” to 2021….

Mr Sivan said the new mission would land in the same area, and would “have a lander, rover and propulsion module like its predecessor”. The new equipment is set to cost some $35m (£26m), while the full cost of the mission is set to be significantly more.

Jitendra Singh, junior minister for the department of space, has said the new mission will be “quite economical”.

“The orbiter is already there. So we are going to be cutting cost,” he told the Times of India.