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Isro clears air

New Delhi, Jan. 15 (PTI): The Indian Space Research Organisation has made it clear that it is not in a race with China to put a man in space.

Confusion over whether India was planning a manned space mission arose after news spread that Isro has been working on a recovery capsule that can detach itself from an orbiting satellite and land safely on earth.

An Isro spokesman admitted that the agency is building a recovery capsule but said it is not meant for a manned mission.

“Isro has no plans at present to put a man in space because the benefits are not commensurate with costs,” the Isro spokesman said.

“(The) Indian space programme has always been directed towards using space technology for societal benefits, primarily in the areas of telecommunication, broadcasting, meteorology, disaster warning and resources monitoring and management. All these could be done without the presence of man in space,” he said in a statement.

Asked why Isro is working on a recovery capsule when it has no intention of putting a man in space, the spokesman said: “The space recovery capsule experiment that Isro is planning is aimed at understanding the technologies of re-entry dynamics as well as to conduct scientific experiments like micro-gravity experiments.”

“These technology experiments may also lead to the reusable launch vehicles but not for manned mission,” he added.

At a space summit in Bangalore on January 4, China announced that it had successfully conducted four tests with recoverable capsule and that it was ready to put two astronauts in space by the end of this year. China began work on its manned space mission in 1992.

Isro sources said the organisation is way behind China even if it wants to put a man in space.

According to Isro’s perspective plan, the recoverable capsule is targeted for testing in 2006 and GSLV-Mark-3 — Isro’s only rocket that can be used in a manned mission — is not expected to be ready until 2008.

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