Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Thursday (13 June 2019) announces India’s plans to set up its own space station making it a historical announcement in the countries space programmes.
ISRO chairman Dr. K Sivan (Kailasavadivoo Sivan) with the Minister of State for Department of Space and Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh during a joint press meet in New Delhi on Thursday said that this project of making India’s own space station is the next phase of the Gaganyaan Mission (India’s FIRST manned mission). This manned mission is scheduled for August 2022 which involves sending three Indian astronauts to space for seven days in the lower earth orbit (LEO).
“Our Gaganyaan programme has to be sustained after we launch a human space mission. In that regard, India is planning to have its own space station. We don’t want to part of the existing International Space Station (ISS), therefore we want to set up our own. However, our station, which will be set up in 5 to 7 years, won’t be very huge. It will have a mass of 20 tonnes and will be used for scientific studies, including microgravity tests.” said K Sivan.
He added that the detailed project report including the financial documents on setting up a space station will be submitted to the government after the Gaganyaan mission for budget approval.
The proposed space station is expected to weigh 20 tonnes and serve as a facility where astronauts can stay for 15-20 days, and it would be placed in an orbit 400 km above the earth. The time frame for launch is 5-7 years after the Gaganyaan Mission.
The ISRO would also join the international space community for a manned mission to the moon and beyond, Dr. Sivan said. We don’t want to be a part of the International Space Station, he added. This separate space station would help ISRO to sustain human space flight missions in future.
Speaking on the progress of Gaganyaan, Jitendra Singh said the project was on track to be realised by the 75th Independence Day or even earlier.
“Cost approved by the Union Cabinet just before the Model Code of Conduct came into force was ₹10,000 crore,” Dr. Singh said.
A Gaganyaan National Advisory Council has been already created consisting of members from different institutions and industries to oversee the mission. Selection of 2-3 crew members for Gaganyaan would be done in six months, Dr. Singh said and added that they would then undergo training for 1-1.5 years.
The initial phase of training would be in India and the advanced stage would be done abroad as the requisite facilities did not exist here and the project was on a short timeline, Dr. Sivan added.
A GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle is planned to be used to launch the Gaganyaan. Preceding the mission, two unmanned missions are planned to be undertaken, one in December next year and the second, six months after that. The Gagayaan mission aims to send a 2-3 person crew to space for a period of seven days in the Low Earth Orbit.
ISRO had already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Air Force for selection and training of pilots for this mission. Additionally, ISRO has spoken with the Navy and Coast Guard for the recovery of the crew module once it lands in water after re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere, Dr. Sivan said.
In the press meeting, the ISRO chief also shed light upon the upcoming interplanetary missions.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission is scheduled to launch at 2.15 am on July 15, 2019, and the rover will land on the moon by September 6. This is India’s second moon mission and the aim is to explore the south pole, an unchartered territory. The mission cost of Chandrayaan-2 with regard to the satellite was Rs 603 crore, he said. India’s first lunar mission to space in 2008 was successful and playing a crucial role in the discovery of water molecules on the moon.
After Chandrayaan-2, ISRO has set its sights on two interplanetary missions. Mission Aditya-L1 is scheduled for next year to study the Sun’s corona, which effects climate on earth, and another mission to study Venus in 2-3 years.