What is ISRO's 'SPADEX 2020' Experiment ?

What is ISRO's 'SPADEX 2020' Experiment ?
Future readiness is the key for maintaining an edge in technology and Indian Space Research Organisation ventures to optimise and augment its technologies as the needs and ambitions of the country evolve. ISRO is moving forward with the development of heavy lift launchers, human spaceflight projects, reusable launch vehicles, semi-cryogenic engines, single and two stage to orbit (SSTO and TSTO) vehicles, development and use of composite materials for space applications etc

With fantastic success of missions like Mangalyan, Chandrayan etc., ISRO is heading towards one more vital and hard activity in 2020 called ‘SPADEX’ - ‘Space Docking Experiment’!!

What is Space Docking?

Docking of spacecraft is the process of joining two man made space vehicles. This connection can be temporary, or semi-permanent such as for space station modules. Docking pointedly refers to joining of two separate free-flying space vehicles.
Definition may project the process a cakewalk activity, but this is a very strenuous technology where two space objects moving at extremely high velocities have to be brought close and then to be joined precisely.

Significance of Space Docking :

1) For astronauts to expedite in to a space station, crewed spacecraft (vehicle carrying those astronauts) has to dock with the station. Even cargo supply missions to space station also requires, the cargo spacecraft docking with the station.

We all know that ISRO has planned to build an ambitious fully Indian space station after ‘Gaganyaan’ human spaceflight mission in 2022. So docking is a very vital technology to be mastered.

2) To build some giant structures in space, small parts need to be assembled using docking technology.Indian space station may be a compact one initially and if it plans for an expansion then again docking plays a major role.

3) We have plenty of satellites in orbit whose operational lifetime is limited by their amount of fuel carrying capacity and they have to be retired even if their instruments are in working condition and new satellites have to be built & launched to replace them. Using docking technology, re-fuelling option can be explored which increases their operational life time significantly and projects monetary benefits.

Mechanism Involved:

How docking technology may be demonstrated?

Two space crafts will be launched in to orbit using PSLV. Once those two crafts comes closer, they will communicate and then the one in front (target) will slow down so that the other (chaser) can adjust its dynamics accordingly. Once they are close enough, camera or laser switching takes place where the two space crafts will ‘look at’ each other. Guided by camera and sensors, they will come closer, line up and one will latch on to the other.

ISRO is working on this technology for last 3 years and next year it is likely to be demonstrated. Success of ‘SPADEX’ will be a big step forward in gaining advanced technologies for realizing a future space station of our own.

*Video embedded is the whole and sole property of youtube and is shared purely for demonstration of the concept.

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