Russia's Space Research Institute said it is ready to collaborate with France to develop India's Shukrayaan orbiter, which is targeted for Venus launch in 2024

The Space Research Institute (IKI) of the Russian Academy of Sciences has expressed willingness to work with France in developing the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Shukrayaan mission. ‘Shukrayaan’ will be India’s first mission to Venus to study the planet’s atmosphere using an orbiter. Recently, reports revealed that France is refusing to cooperate with Russia on the mission citing the Ukraine crisis.

Some of the orbiter’s components were supposed to be contributed by France but the ongoing Ukraine crisis has deteriorated its relations with Russia. Oleg Korablyov, head of the IKI planetary physics department, said that he is ready to cooperate with France despite these conditions and will try to preserve the partnership. However, France is yet to issue any statement on its improved stance.

“We hope that everything will be accomplished with India and will not be cancelled due to any reasons," Korablyov said as per TASS. "We would also like to hope that this will happen rather promptly, that we will be able to produce the instruments and we will have a margin of time for everything," he added.

ISRO’s Venus Mission Under Clouds of Uncertainty

The Shukrayaan mission is targeted for launch in December 2024, when Earth and Venus will be at their closest, and its entry into the Venusian orbit is planned for 2025. However, the degrading relations between the two parties might delay the launch. Notably, the launch window is strictly limited as the next opportunity with Earth and Venus being this close will occur no earlier than 2031.

During a live programme, titled Outstanding Science Questions on Venus in May this year, ISRO Chairman S Somanath said that the overall plans for the mission are ready. "Work has been going on for years. Currently, the Venus mission is conceived, the project report is made, overall plans are ready, money is identified and all that thing is done," Somanath said.

The mission objective includes investigation of the surface processes, active volcanic hotspots and lava flows, study of the structure, composition and dynamics of the Venusian atmosphere and its interaction with the solar wind. The mission, however, is yet to be approved by the government which could be another reason for the delay of the mission. Talking about the timeline, Korablyov had earlier said, "It depends on the Indian partners, so far they haven't fully decided when".