India has plans to build its own space station, which is set to follow the country’s first crewed space mission.
Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan said a detailed project report on setting up a space station will be submitted to the government after the Gaganyaan mission.
That’s the launch of India’s spacecraft intended to eventually carry people into space. The first unmanned missions are planned for late next year and mid-2021, followed by a manned mission in late 2021.
Dr Sivan said the proposed space station would weigh 20 tonnes and support astronauts for stays of 15-20 days. It would be placed in geostationary orbit about 400 kilometres above the Earth's surface.
Time frame for launch is five to seven years after Gaganyaan, he said.
“We want to have a separate space station. We will launch a small module for microgravity experiments ... that is our ambition,” he told Indian media in New Delhi this week.
ISRO had already signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indian Air Force for selection and training of crew for the Gaganyaan mission.
Talks are also under way with the Indian Navy and Coast Guard for recovery of the crew module after re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and splash down in the ocean.
India has an active and longstanding space program. ISRO itself was founded in 1969 and has sent probes to the moon and Mars.
Dr Sivan said ISRO would also join the international space community for a crewed mission to moon and beyond.
Minster of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh said Gaganyaan was on track was on track to be realised by India’s 75th Independence Day, 2022, or even earlier.
A Gaganyaan National Advisory Council has been created. Within six months, two to three crew members would be selected to undergo training for 12-18 months.
The initial training would be conducted in India and advanced training abroad as India did not have the required facilities. The project was on a short timeline, Dr Sivan said.
Gaganyaan will be launched on an Indian GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle, a rocket comparable to the Falcon 9.
The manned Gagayaan mission aims to send a two- to three-person crew into low-earth orbit for a period of seven days.
India plans to launch its Chandrayaan-2 mission to land a probe and rover on the moon later this year. That’s to be followed by Aditya-L1 to study the sun’s corona and another mission to study Venus in two to three years.
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