ISRO plans ambitious space missions

The man-in-space mission, which will send up two astronauts to go around in a low-earth orbit for seven days, is  being taken up in two phases, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan and other top ISRO scientists told a press conference here after the PSLV-C15’s perfect launch.

The critical technologies to put man in space, including development of a preliminary unmanned orbital capsule with a full escape system in the event of any exigencies. It will be a dress rehearsal to the former, he said.

The navigability of the unmanned orbital capsule, its attendant thermal and life-protection systems will be initially launched on board a PSLV, which is low-cost and also help to understand how to integrate the avionics of the launch vehicle with that of the orbital system, Radhakrishnan said.

Second phase
While the components of the project’s first phase have been defined and the fabrication of the orbital module is being taken up to enable the precursor unmanned orbital module to be launched by a PSLV by 2013, preparations are also on for the project’s second phase.

For the second phase, “you need a launch vehicle with very great reliability” and hence GSLV-Mark III developed by the ISRO has been identified as the vehicle for the Man-in-Space programme, Radhakrishnan said.

The re-entry technology for the space capsule is also critical.
All these will need a new third launch pad to be constructed at Sriharikota, which alone costs over Rs 1,000 crore, besides a centre for astronauts training, taking care of the crew before and after their return from the space flight, and another Mission Control Centre here.

Even the PSLV to be used in the rehearsal flight will have to be modified in its upper stage design, besides having to set up one more vertical assembly building.Land for the third launch pad for this mission has been identified. The project proposal for the first phase has been submitted to the Centre.

Radhakrishnan declined to put a time frame for the ultimate Man-in-Space mission.
Chandrayaan II

Meanwhile, ISRO’s next moon mission—Chandrayaan-II—is in an advanced stage of designing. It includes an orbiter around the moon besides a soft landing component, namely small rover.

The rover will move around by commands of the ground station. The prototype design for the rover has been conceptualised even as the lander will be developed in collaboration with Russia, Radhakrishnan said. “We hope to have the Chandrayaan II mission by 2013,” the ISRO chief added.

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