HELSINKI — India’s Aditya-L1 solar observatory has reached its destination orbit around Sun-Earth Lagrange point 1 around 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.

Aditya-L1 entered orbit around Sun-Earth L1 at around 5:30 a.m. Eastern (1230 UTC) Jan. 6, following a burn by the spacecraft’s engines, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced via X/Twitter.

The spacecraft is the country’s first dedicated mission to study the Sun. Its halo orbit at L1 will allow it to continuously study solar phenomena. 

Science objectives include studying coronal heating, solar wind acceleration, Coronal Mass Ejections, solar atmospheric dynamics and temperature anisotropy. The nominal lifespan of the spacecraft is five years, but this could be extended, according to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

Aditya-L1 launched on Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C57) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota, Sept. 2 last year. The launch came days after India became the fourth country to land on the moon with the robotic Chandrayaan-3 lander.

Aditya-L1 performed four Earth-bound orbital maneuvers before entering a transfer orbit for L1. Its arrival came 126 days later.

The 1,480-kilogram spacecraft is equipped with seven scientific instruments developed indigenously for solar research. 

Positioned approximately 1% of the Sun-Earth distance within the orbit of our planet, its payload includes an ultraviolet imaging telescope, soft and hard X-ray spectrometers, and a coronagraph for solar observations. Additionally, it carries a pair of particle analyzers and a magnetometer for direct in-situ measurements.

For comparison, the James Webb Space Telescope operates at Sun-Earth L-2 Lagrange point, another gravitationally stable point, 1.5 million kilometers from the Earth but in the direction opposite to the Sun.

ISRO released full-disk images of the Sun in ultra-violet from the spacecraft’s SUIT payload in December.

Meanwhile in low Earth orbit, the upper stage of the PSLV rocket which launched India’s XPoSat X-ray observatory Jan. 1 (UTC), has hosted a series of experiments. Attached to the upper stage is a payload called PSLV Orbital Experimental Module (POEM) 3.

Experiments included testing tantalum-based coatings, fuel cells, small thrusters, interplanetary dust measurements and more. The experiments were arranged by ISRO and the National Space Promotion Authorization Center (IN-SPACe), a government agency set up to regulate and authorize commercial space activities in India. 

POEM-3 is part of a wider initiative to spur commercial space development. India last year initiated reforms that officials say can help the country become a global space hub.

Two payloads on POEM-3 developed by private firm Bellatrix Aerospace are now space qualified after meeting mission success criteria. These are RUDRA 0.3, a green monopropellant thruster, and ARKA-200, a heater less hollow cathode for Hall thrusters. Bellatrix says it is now able to supply propulsion systems globally.

Andrew Jones covers China's space industry for SpaceNews. Andrew has previously lived in China and reported from major space conferences there. Based in Helsinki, Finland, he has written for National Geographic, New Scientist, Smithsonian Magazine, Sky...