Following the victory of India’s moon landing, the country’s space agency launched its solar First mission on Saturday.
A video stream on the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) website showed the rocket leaving a trail of smoke and fire while scientists applauded.
The broadcast was watched by about 500,000 people, and thousands more gathered at a viewing gallery near the launch site to witness the probe’s liftoff, which will try to investigate solar winds, which can generate disturbances on Earth known as auroras.
The Aditya-L1 launch, named after the Hindi word for sun, comes after India defeated Russia late last month to become the first country to land on the moon’s south pole.
While Russia had a more powerful rocket, India’s Chandrayaan-3 outlasted the Luna-25 to land perfectly.
The Aditya-L1 spacecraft is designed to travel 1.5 million kilometres (930,000 miles) in four months to a kind of parking lot in orbit where objects tend to stay there due to balanced gravity pulls, lowering spacecraft fuel consumption.
Lagrange Points are named after the Italian-French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange.
According to Somak Raychaudhury, who was engaged in the building of some components of the observatory, the project has the potential to make a “big bang in terms of science,” adding that energetic particles emitted by the sun can damage satellites that govern communications on Earth.
“There have been cases when major communications have been disrupted due to a satellite being hit by a large corona emission.” Satellites in low earth orbit are the primary focus of global private companies, making the Aditya L1 mission critical,” he said.
Scientists want to learn more about the effects of solar radiation on the hundreds of satellites in orbit, a number that is growing due to the success of projects such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s Starlink communications network.
ISRO scientists believe that data from the project will help them better understand the sun’s impact on Earth’s climate patterns and the origins of solar wind, the stream of particles that flows from the sun across the solar system.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has privatised space launches and plans to open the sector to international investment as it seeks to more than fivefold its share of the global launch market over the next decade.
As space becomes a global business, the country is counting on ISRO’s success to demonstrate its capabilities in the field.