Roadmap for manned space flight by 2022

The Indian Space Research Organisation will conduct two flights of unmanned space capsules about 30 months and 36 months from now in preparation for the country's first manned space mission by 2022, space agency officials announced on Tuesday.

By G.S. Mudur
  • Published 29.08.18
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New Delhi: The Indian Space Research Organisation will conduct two flights of unmanned space capsules about 30 months and 36 months from now in preparation for the country's first manned space mission by 2022, space agency officials announced on Tuesday.

The manned space capsule will be designed for a five-to-seven day mission about 300km to 400km above the Earth, officials said, adding that Isro has for over a decade been developing key technologies for human space flight.

Isro has designed a three-person space capsule but how many astronauts will be sent in the first mission has not been decided yet, they said. Only Russia, the US and China have until now sent astronauts into space aboard their own spacecraft.

The space capsule will take about 16 minutes to reach its low-Earth orbit and about 36 minutes in its descent trajectory that will bring it back for a parachute-aided splashdown likely in the Arabian Sea or the Bay of Bengal, officials said.

The mission, which will also draw on expertise and resources from industries and academic institutions, could generate about 15,000 extra jobs, Isro chairman Kalisavadivoo Sivan said.

About 11,000 of these jobs will be in industries that provide hardware and components for Isro missions, a senior space official said.

Sivan said Isro has already tested key technologies, including recovery elements and logistics, deep space communications, and crew escape system, required for manned space flight.

Other components such as a crew module simulator, astronaut spacesuits and onboard life support systems are under development, space officials said.

Isro has also conducted test flights of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mk-III - a rocket designed to launch extra heavy payloads, including manned space capsules.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his August 15 speech, had announced that India would send an astronaut into space before or by 2022, surprising even sections of Indian space scientists.

Although Isro has worked on related technologies, it did not have an approved manned space flight plan.

The Union minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office, Jitendra Singh, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, said the decision to send humans into space was more of a political decision as Isro's focus had been on supporting critical areas such as communications, agriculture and weather.

A PTI report quoted Singh as saying: "We had planned it and we were waiting for the Prime Minister to make an announcement - it is a very significant announcement."

Sivan said the manned space flight project was expected to cost "less than Rs 10,000 crore".

Isro is at present also preparing for Chandrayaan-2, the country's first lunar lander mission, now scheduled for January or February 2019. The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft will carry multiple payloads for scientific studies of the Moon and a robotic rover to study lunar rocks and soil.

India's space agency also plans to launch in January 2020 Aditya-L1, a spacecraft carrying six payloads to study the Sun from a distance of about 1.5km from the Earth.