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Manned space mission likely in 2016: ISRO Chief

Staff Reporter


Escape system for crew safety to be developed in a few years

Not apologetic about Chandrayaan, says Kasturirangan


Bangalore: The earliest window for the country’s manned space mission could present itself in 2016 when the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to place two astronauts on a low-earth orbit, ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said on Wednesday.

The astronauts would be trained for a seven-day space flight in Devanahalli, he told presspersons on the sidelines of the launch of a book, Mission Moon: Exploring the moon with Chandrayaan-1, written by S.K. Das, honorary adviser to the ISRO.

Out of the 100 acres needed, around 45 acres was acquired for the training centre in Devanahalli. The Union government had allotted Rs. 400 crore for the purpose. The total projected cost of the manned mission was Rs.12,000 crore.

In the next few years, the ISRO would develop a crew model and an escape system while ensuring the reliability of the launch vehicle.

“We should be able to achieve these in steps, and eventually have our astronauts in space using our own launch vehicle,” Dr. Radhakrishnan said.

Potential habitat

The former ISRO chief, U.R. Rao, said the deep tunnels on the lunar surface, discovered by Japanese satellite Kaguya, might be ideal for future human colonies. If human habitation does become a reality, it would likely be in these 260-feet deep and 2,600-feet wide tunnels, which would give protection against intense radiation.

Mr. Rao said that according to his calculation, around 2.5 million tonnes of Helium-3 existed on the lunar surface. “This quantity will be enough to meet the Earth’s energy requirement for 10,000 years.”

Alluding to the criticism that Chandrayaan drew for its Rs.350-crore price tag, another former ISRO chief K. Kasturirangan, credited with conceiving the moon mission, said he was “not apologetic about Chandrayaan as it had served to ignite young minds.”

The sentiment was echoed by G. Madhavan Nair, Dr. Radhakrishnan’s predecessor in whose tenure the mission took place. “We now have large amounts of data running into terabytes. Indian scientists now have to wake up and chew on it,” he said.

India’s first launch vehicle with indigenous cryogenic engine GSLV-Mk2 (Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) would be launched in two months, said Dr. Radhakrishnan. The precise date would be announced in a week’s time.

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