Indian astronaut in space by 2022, says PM

Indian astronaut in space by 2022, says PM

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An Indian would be sent to space by 2022, the 75th anniversary of 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 the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) already developed and tested some technologies.

“The schedule is very tight, but it is a challenge to work in tight schedules. Several new facilities have to be tested. Its a matter of national prestige now,” ISRO Chairman K Sivan told DH.

Over the years, the 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, the 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.

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