Aditya-L1: A rocket has successfully launched from India’s main space centre.
India began its first journey to the Sun this morning, just days after it became the first country in history to achieve a soft landing of a spacecraft on the unexplored south pole of the Moon.
The Aditya-L1 spacecraft is an unmanned observation satellite that the Indian Space Organization (ISRO) wants to use to monitor solar activity and learn more about how it affects space weather phenomena such as solar storms.
The launch took place at 11:50 am. local time (7:20 a.m. BST) on Saturday morning at the same space centre in Sriharikota, southern India, where the country’s historic Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission launched.
Aditya – which means sun in Hindi – will take about four months to reach its final position in orbit around the Sun.Isro says. It will first enter a low-Earth orbit, then adopt a more elliptical path, and finally use internal propulsion to push into a region around the Sun called Lagrange Point 1 (L1).
L1 is approximately 1.5 million kilometres from Earth and gives Aditya a continuous and unobstructed view of the Sun.
Facts about India’s Aditya L1 Mission
The Aditya-L1 spacecraft is designed to travel about 1.5 million kilometres (930,000 miles) in four months to a kind of parking lot in space, where objects tend to stay in place due to the balance of gravitational forces, reducing the spacecraft’s fuel consumption.
These places are called Lagrange points, named after the Italian-French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange.
With this mission, scientists hope to learn more about how solar radiation affects the thousands of satellites in orbit, a number that is growing with projects like Elon Musk’s Starlink communications network.
In the longer term, data from the mission could help better understand the sun’s influence on Earth’s climate patterns and the origin of the solar wind, the stream of particles flowing from the sun through the solar system, Isro scientists said.
India has privatised space vehicles in recent years and is looking to open the sector to foreign investment as it aims to quintuple its share of the global launch market over the next decade.
Spacecraft performance “as expected”
The first three stages of separation have been successfully completed and the Aditya-L1 craft is operating normally. The ship has shut down its thrusters and is now taxiing to its original Low Earth Track position.
More than 800,000 viewers watched the launch of Aditya L1 in India live
India successfully launched its solar mission minutes ago to applause and cheers from scientists and onlookers, while hundreds of thousands joined them to watch the historic launch online.
At its peak, more than 800,000 people watched the official feed from India’s space agency Isro, and thousands gathered in person near the launch site to watch the rocket lift off.
The purpose of the Aditya-L1 mission is to study the solar wind that can cause disturbances on Earth, commonly known as the aurora borealis.