New Delhi/Hyderabad: Technologies that will help in sending an Indian astronaut to space by 2022, as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day address today, have already been completed, ISRO Chairman K Sivan said. “We have already done development of crew module, crew escape, environment control, life-support system and space suite, as also GSLV-Mark III (the rocket to be used for the mission,” Sivan told PTI.
Prior to the actual launch, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will have two unmanned missions and the spacecraft will be fired using Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark-III, he said. The ISRO chief’s remarks came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in his Independence Day address that India would attempt a manned mission into space by 2022 on board ‘Gaganyaan’.
“It’s an excellent gift given by the prime minister to the nation,” an elated Sivan said. This human space flight venture, he said, would take the country’s science and technology field to a very high level, inspire the younger generation, and “every Indian can be proud of it”. Asserting that the expense of the project would not be much as most of the technologies have already been developed, the ISRO chairman estimated that it would cost less than Rs 10,000 crore and the spacecraft module would weigh around four-five tons.
On how ISRO is going to select the astronaut for the mission, he said, “We need to discuss. Three people can travel. Now all the process will start.” It is a national project where multiple organisations, academia, and industry would be involved to accomplish the mission. It would demonstrate that India would be on par with the developed countries in this area. It would enhance the national prestige, the ISRO chief said.
“That way, it’s a great announcement. It’s a great challenge to ISRO to achieve the mission within the time-frame (by 2022). Still we can achieve,” he said, adding that around 60-70 per cent of the work had already been completed. What remains to be done are setting up some facilities and infrastructure, including control centre, work on instrumentation and launch pad modifications, which are not a difficult job, he added.
Meanwhile, former ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan, under whose leadership the Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) was launched in 2013, termed the announcement of the Gaganyaan mission a “turning point” for ISRO. If successful, India would be the fourth nation to achieve that feat. Rakesh Sharma, a former IAF pilot, was the first Indian to travel to space. Sharma was a part of the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 expedition, launched on April 2, 1984, as part of the Intercosmos programme.
Indian-born Kalpana Chawla and Indian-origin Sunita Williams are among the known names to have gone to space. Chawla was one of the seven crew members who had died in the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia, during its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere in 2003. In December 2014, Modi had announced that India would launch SAARC satellite as a “gift” to its neighbours. The satellite, later rechristened South Asian satellite, was launched in May last year.
ISRO is known for its space programme and projects that matter to the day-day lives of people. However of late, it has launched missions like Chandrayaan-1 (moon mission) and Mangalyaan that had aroused tremendous interest among people. It will launch Chandrayaan-2, which will land a rover on the moon, next year.