The Russian invasion of Ukraine has now reached the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) frontiers as the conflict threatens to derail the Indian space agency’s 2024 Shukrayaan launch aimed to orbit Venus. France has refused to supply required components as a result of the conflict as Russia is also involved in the mission.
However, Russia has provided a lifeline. According to a report in TASS, the Russian news agency, the head of the Russian Space Institute (IKI) of the Russian Academy of Sciences has said they are willing to move past the Ukrainian conflict to provide the required support for the Venus mission.
Oleg Korablyov, head of the IKI, said, “We hope that everything will be accomplished with India and will not be cancelled due to any reasons.” The French, who are responsible for supplying vital components for the mission, have yet to respond to this statement.
The Shukrayaan mission is targetting a December 2024 launch, when Venus and Earth will be closest to each other. The next similar launch window will be in 2031.
India-China dispute threatens UN initiative with Tiangong
Conflicts on the India-China border dating back to the Pangong lake disturbance in May 2020 are threatening to derail a UN-led initiative to place an Indian spectroscope on the Chinese space station Tiangong.
Scientists from the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) were selected by the UN from 42 applicants in 2019 to design payloads to be launched to Tiangong back in 2019. The research students from IIA, in collaboration with the Russian Academy of Sciences, is building a project called Spectrographic Investigation of Nebular Gas (SING), set to be launched in 2023.
According to a report by The Hindu, the design of the payload is on track for the launch, but the IIA authorities are now checking with the government and ISRO if a Chinese collaboration is acceptable.
The SING project will be used to study and analyse the make up of interstellar gas in the region around the Chinese space station. IIA authorities have said they believe the payload can be launched on an ISRO shuttle as well, but a change will require planning and budgeting to succeed.