Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is working towards a mission to study Venus, with plans to conduct it in 2023.
Apart from Venus, the other major missions Isro is working on are a return visit to Mars and a spacecraft to study asteroids and the Sun. Isro is working on these missions to build a body of scientific data to encourage more people to take up research.
So far, the space agency has launched the Chandrayaan-1 mission to the Moon and the Mangalyaan-1 mission to Mars, besides placing an observatory in space with Astrosat. The Gaganyan mission, India's maiden human spaceflight programme, is on its way to take off in 2022 or even before that.
In response to a question in Parliament, Union Minister of State Jitendra Singh said that the Venus mission is planned for 2023 and is in the configuration study phase.
An announcement to the international scientific community of an opportunity to study Venus using space-based experiments was made on November 6, 2018. The proposal submission deadline is January 3, 2019. The internal payload selection committee from Isro will review and select the international payloads.
Venus is often described as the "twin sister" of Earth because of the similarities in size, mass, density, bulk composition and gravity.
For the Venus mission, Isro is planning to identify important experiments that would strengthen or complement the suite of pre-selected proposals from India.
The broad areas of research that Isro plans to explore include the surface, subsurface and atmosphere of the planet, as well as its interaction with the Sun.
Meanwhile, Isro, which is trying to rope in private partners to overcome its own constraints, plans to launch 27 satellites that have been developed by private firms by 2021.
Singh said that the UR Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) has entered into work order contracts with three different vendors to help in the assembly, integration and testing (AIT) activities for satellites. The companies include Alpha Design Technologies, BEL and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd.
These companies will develop communication (seven), Earth observation (12), navigation (five) and science satellites (three).
On the performance of Isro's workhorse, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the minister said that during 2015-17, a total of 186 satellites were put into orbit using the PSLV. Further, under commercial arrangements, a total of 169 customer satellites from other countries were successfully launched onboard the PSLV.
The revenue earned through launching these 169 satellites amounted to around $4 million and 95 million euro.