PM vows to put an Indian in space by 2022

PM vows to put an Indian in space by 2022

People watch as a GSAT-6A satellite takes off on the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle from Sriharikota. (AFP file pic)

PM I-day speech – Space – An Indian astronaut in Space by 2022, tight schedule is a challenge, says ISRO chief

New Delhi, Aug 15: An Indian would be sent to space by 2022, the 75th anniversary of the independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced here on Wednesday.

“By the time we celebrate the 75th year of independence in 2022 and if possible, even before, we will be sending an Indian to space. I am fortunate to have an opportunity to share the good news,” he said in his Independence Day address from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

The announcement sets the ball rolling on India’s maiden human space mission for which Indian Space Research Organisation already developed and tested some technologies.

“The schedule is very tight, but it's a challenge to work in tight schedules. Several new facilities have to be tested. Its a matter of national prestige now,” Indian Space Research Organisation chairman K Sivan told DH.

Over the years, ISRO designed and developed the crew module and technologies that are required for the escape system, payload recovery, life support and keeping the astronauts safe in zero gravity conditions in space. All such technologies need to be tested repeatedly to make them almost fail-proof because of the involvement of human lives.

Asked how much the mission would cost, Sivan said it would be less than Rs 10,000 crore that was once estimated to be the cost of a manned flight. The way it is being planned at the moment is to have 2-3 unmanned flights before one or two manned missions.

ISRO would be using its GSLM-Mk-III rockets to ferry the crew module to a low earth orbit (160-2000 km) above the earth's surface. “GSLV MK-III will have 10-15 flights before it is used for the manned flight,” Sivan said.

Early in July, ISRO carried out a technology demonstration by successfully testing the crew escape system, which is an emergency escape measure designed to quickly pull the crew module along with the astronauts to a safe distance from the launch vehicle in the event of a launch abort.

When the feat would be accomplished, Modi said, India could be the fourth country in the world to send an individual to space.

The Indian astronaut could either be a man or woman, the Prime Minister added.

Way back in November 2006, nearly 80 scientists from all over the country discussed the possibility of a human space mission. But the idea was shelved in the absence of right kind of technology and high cost. After its success with Moon, Mars and deep space (Astrosat) missions, the space agency revived its old plan of sending human beings to the space.

The project has now been revived. Last month, ISRO invited scientists from all the country to discuss what types of scientific experiments are to be conducted in those missions.

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