NEW DELHI, AUG 28: Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh disclosed here today that Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to make history as it aims to send three Indians into Space for a period of 5 to 7 days and that its first Human Space Mission will be a turning point, not only for India, but for the whole world, as it will unfold a new chapter to understand the infinite mysteries of universe.
Addressing a press conference, along with Chairman ISRO Dr K Sivan, Dr Jitendra Singh said, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made the announcement of India’s first Human Space Mission from the ramparts of Red Fort on the Independence Day this year and the plan for the mission has been fully worked out. The next crucial stage of planning would involve finalizing the names of the three Indians who will be selected for the Space journey and who will be made to undergo training cum acclimatization for a period lasting around three years or so. Once this gets accomplished, the proposed Human Space Mission can be launched some time before 2022 or around 2022, which happens to the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, he added.
“We have become a front-line nation and our findings from Space Missions are being procured and utilized even by the other reputed centres of the world, including NASA,” Dr Singh said. Even though America had landed a human being on the surface of the Moon way back in 1960s, but it was the Indian Mission “Chandrayan-I” which discovered the presence of water on the surface of the moon and hinted at the possibility of human habitat over there. “Chandrayan-II”, he said, will be launched shortly and it would be an extension of the moon research carried out earlier.
Even though Indian astronauts, including Rakesh Sharma, Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams have been into the Space earlier, Dr Jitendra Singh said, but they were part of Space Missions from other countries, whereas India’s Human Space Mission “Gaganyan” is going to be totally indigenous, having been conceived, developed and launched from the Indian soil and also carrying Indian human beings. The budget of Rs 9,000 to 10,000 crore incurred in it is also quite cost-effective, when seen from a larger perspective and the value of the outcomes, he said.
Giving details about the Mission, Dr Sivan made a presentation to show how the “Gaganyan” would reach its orbit after travelling over 300 kms from the surface of the earth within just about 16 minutes. The human crew members, he informed, would stay in the Space for five to seven days before undertaking their return journey.
ISRO began work on developing critical technologies to send humans to space way back in 2004 but the project was not on the “priority list”, K Sivan said.
“The experiments have been going on since 2004 but it was not on our priority list,” Sivan told reporters at a joint press conference with Singh.
That did not mean the Indian Space Research Organisation was not going to take up this project, he added.
The decision to send humans to space was more of a political decision as ISRO’s focus had been on undertaking projects that supported critical areas like communication, agriculture and climate, Singh said.
To send humans to space, ISRO has developed critical technologies like re-entry mission capability, crew escape system, crew module configuration, thermal protection system, sub-system of life and support system required and the prototype of a space suit. The Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE) was conducted in 2007, Crew Module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment (CARE) in 2014 and Pad Abort Test in 2018, scientists said.
The Pad Abort Test demonstrated the safe recovery of the crew module in case of any exigency during the launch of the mission.
G Madhavan Nair, who served as ISRO chairperson from 2003-2009, said work to develop critical technologies started in 2004 but was subsequently put in cold storage.
In 2016, Sivan’s predecessor A S Kiran Kumar said the mission to send humans into the space was not a priority.
In the joint vision statement for space cooperation by India and France in March this year, the space agencies of the two countries agreed to develop technologies for human exploration of the universe.
Under this, ISRO and CNES (Centro Nacional de Estudios Espaciales) would jointly develop capabilities and critical technologies to address radiation shielding solutions, personnel hygiene and waste management system and design of man-in-loop simulators for human space flight as well as Bioastronautics.