Star City awaits Indian astronauts

Star City awaits Indian astronauts

It cannot be confirmed where humankind’s next step in space will be, but the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has set its sights on “Star City”.

This is not some self-luminous heavenly body up in the sky, but a state-of-the-art astronauts’ training facility which the ISRO plans to build over a sprawling 50-acre piece of land at Yelahanka on the City’s northern outskirts.

As terrestrial as it will be, “Star City”, which will be otherwise known as Astronaut Training and Biomedical Engineering Centre, may resemble the one in Russia where cosmonauts and astronauts from all over the world train to fly on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Facilities

Speaking to Deccan Herald, a highly placed ISRO source said the centre “will have all the required facilities to house our crew and the select astronauts who have been selected to undergo training for their 2015 moon mission.”

About 250-odd pilots from the Indian Air Force (IAF), including women, are said to have been screened and  the training process–as flying an aircraft is different from going outside the planet’s orbit–will be scheduled after due diligence, once “Star City” comes up.

According to sources, the ISRO is eyeing a 2012-13 deadline to complete the project and that will give sufficient time to train astronauts for the moon mission two to three years later.

Clearance

The Indian Human Space flight Programme is an ISRO proposal to develop and launch a fully functional Orbital Vehicle to carry a two or three-member crew to the moon, clearance for which was given by the Centre in February last year. Tight security will be in force at the centre, where entry will be restricted to only authorised persons.

To be built in collaboration with the  IAF  Institute of Aviation Medicine, which is also located on the outskirts of Bangalore, the ISRO facility will help prepare personnel for the manned mission in 2015 using space simulation chambers and isolation centres.

The centre will train the selected astronauts in recovery and rescue operations, study of radiation environment and the long journey across space through water simulation.

At the centre, training will also focus on surviving in zero gravity environments. Besides, there will be different kinds of thermal cycling and radiation regulating chambers.

ISRO will build centrifugals to train the astronauts on acceleration aspects when a vehicle zooms into space, and familiarise them with zero gravity conditions, the source said, adding that water simulators will be like swimming pools in which astronauts can go underneath to learn to live in zero gravity situations.

Disclosing that Yelahanka was best suited for building the training centre, ISRO sources said that proximity to the IAF’s Institute of Aviation Medicine, besides a mushrooming aerospace and aviation industry on the outskirts of Bangalore, were the primary reasons for selecting the site on the northern fringes and not somewhere in Andhra Pradesh.

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