ISRO will be launching a total of 32 missions this year which will include 14 rockets, 17 satellites, and one technology demo mission.
The design for the crew module and crew service module for country’s first manned space mission `Gaganyaan’ will be finalised soon says Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman. ISRO will be launching a total of 32 missions this year which will include 14 rockets, 17 satellites, and one technology demo mission.
Briefing the media persons in New Delhi on Friday ISRO Chairman K Sivan on Friday said “The design work relating to the proposed manned mission is underway and will be finalised soon. A new Centre – Human Space Flight Centre is formed and will be the lead Centre for the overall management and realization of this mission. ”
“Since the infrastructure is there and we have done it earlier too, soon the design for crew module which will carry the astronauts and crew service module will be finalised,” he added.
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To a question about the selection of astronauts, the ISRO chief said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) will play a major role in this and there will be other agencies involved too.”
He also highlighted ISRO’s achievements in 2018 related to launch vehicles, satellites and their applications towards nation building.
Besides the challenges expected related to the Chandrayan-2 mission, he said that several new technologies such as Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, Reusable Launch Vehicle and in-flight connectivity (with launch of GSAT-20) are planned for 2019.
It may be pointed here that ISRO had earlier said Chandrayaan-2 would be launched in a window from Jan-Feb 2019.
However, during Friday’s media interaction he said that “Chandrayaan-2 is scheduled to be launched from March 25 to April end. Though the targeted date is mid-April, as all the tests have not been completed yet.”
The 3,290-kg Chandrayaan-2 will orbit the Moon and perform the objectives of remote sensing it. The payloads will collect scientific information on lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, lunar exosphere and signatures of hydroxyl and water-ice.
According to the ISRO chief it will take 35 to 45 days to reach the Moon after the launch, as ISRO plans six-stage orbit raising manoeuvres.
Responding to a question on China’s recent landing on the moon, Sivan said, “Beijing has landed on the far side of the Moon and we are going to land at a place where nobody else has gone- the Moon’s South Pole.”
“All the landing happened near equator region, in the visible area; nobody has gone to the South Pole and it is scientifically very important.”
“It is an unexplored region; a lot of water is expected. We are also going to create history,” he said
“Enhanced industry interface for production of PSLV by industry will be a major milestone and the efforts in this regard are initiated. A lot of start ups are coming up and they are getting support by ISRO”, Sivan responded to a query about the involvement of the private sector companies in the Space sector.
The ISRO head also announced for the first time `Young Scientists program’, under which 3 students from each state will be selected and will be trained for one month, and all expenses will be borne by ISRO.
Acknowledging that this is based on a similar programme run by the US based NASA; Sivan said that ISRO will take help from the state governments and Union Territories to select the students who will be given access to research and development labs. He added that the selected students will also get practical experience in building satellites.
“There is huge potential available in the country, both inside ISRO as well as outside in the country. To tap this we are planning to set up six incubation centres at places including Trichy, Nagpur, Rourkela and Indore.”
“The manned mission is expected to take off in December 2021, and the crew members will be Indians, and Gaganyaan initial crew training would be done in India. Our Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) has a system, but advanced training may have to be done outside the country mostly in Russia.”
The Indian space agency launched 17 launch vehicle missions and nine spacecraft missions in the year 2018 while also demonstrating crew module for the GSLV Mk-III rocket. ISRO also launched the heaviest satellite built by the agency till date which was the GSAT-11.
The first SSLV test launch is scheduled for July 2019, and the small satellite launchers only need six people to operate from the ground. The SSLV will also be the lightest and the cheapest launch vehicle in the world.