During the 72nd Independence Day speech, Hon’ble PM of India announced that India’s first manned space mission will be launched by 2022.
• The manned Mission is proposed to be called ‘Gaganyaan’ and is expected to cost less than Rs 10,000 Crore.
• The spacecraft will be placed in Low Earth Orbit of 300-400 km altitude.
• With this India could potentially become the fourth country to send a man to space, after the erstwhile USSR, USA and China. Denmark also has a manned space flight scheduled for 2022
• To accelerate the programme, ISRO may consider seeking collaborations with space agencies from friendly countries and advanced space programmes.
• The manned mission will be preceded by two unmanned launches, the first of which has been scheduled for December 2020. The second unmanned mission launch will be in June 2021, before the manned mission launch in December that year.
About the Launch:
• GSLV Mk III, the three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle, will be used to launch Gaganyaan as it has the necessary payload capability.
• The launch will happen from Sriharikota of Andhara Pradesh and the spaceflight will take 16 minutes to reach the orbit where it will stay for five to seven days.
• After de-boost, the Orbital Module will take 36 minutes to splash down in Arabian Sea. The crew module will be recovered within 15-20 days
About the Crew:
• As per ISRO, the ‘Gaganyaan’ will carry three persons into space, including a woman, for five to seven days. The crew will do microgravity experiment during the mission.
• The Crew will be selected by Indian Air Force and ISRO jointly and they will be given a rigorous training for 2-3 years.
• First Indian Citizen in Space: Rakesh Sharma, an Indian Air Force pilot, is the only Indian citizen to have been to space till date. He flew onboard a Russian spacecraft (Soyuz T-11) in 1984 and was awarded the Ashoka Chakra for his achievement.
• Indian-born, Kalpana Chawla and Indian-origin, Sunita Williams are among the known names to have gone to the space.
Origin of the Idea:
• August 2004: ISRO Policy Planning Committee recommends a manned space mission.
• November 2006: National committee comprising 80 scientists and technocrats endorses proposal.
• February–March 2009: Another committee, comprising Montek Singh Ahluwalia, R Chidambram, Roddam Narsimha, MGK Menon ,Yash Pal, M S Swaminathan and K Radhakrishnan, discusses the desirability and feasibility of the programme and expresses support.
• December 18, 2014: Successful testing of experimental flight of GSLV MK-III, this also successfully tests an experimental crew module.
• August 15, 2018: Prime Minister announces manned mission to take place before 2022.
Essential Technologies Developed by ISRO:
• Re-entry mission capability
• crew escape system
• crew module configuration
• thermal protection system
• 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 on 5th July 2018.
• Enhance Science and Technology: The mission will help in national project involving other institutes, academia and industry and improve industrial growth.
• Motivate Youth: It will also inspire youth to take challenge in science and technology, additional human resource development and provide way for the international collaboration and policies.
• Employment Generation: It will also help in providing employment to 15,000 people. Of them 861 will be from ISRO, 1,366 from national agencies and 11,050 from industries.
• Culmination of all achievements: ISRO has been giving shape to this mission for some time now. Also, all the technology developed by ISRO will culminate and converge towards this Manned Mission.
• Development of New Technology: Other technology needed for a manned mission such as Environment Control and Life Support Systems, Food and hygiene related technologies are getting ready.
• Utilize the Start-ups: India has a lot of new start-ups and this mission will provide an aspiration and relevant market for such new companies.
• Industry Academia linkage: As per the statement of ISRO, much of the work related to ramping up of infrastructure and supply of hardware for this mission would be outsourced to industry in a major way and academia would be involved.
Arguments Against this Mission:
• Crores of rupee wasted: It is argued that this money could be used to feed millions of hungry people and children suffering from malnutrition.
• It is also argued that those thousands of ISRO scientists and engineers can contribute more by coming up with new technology to fix malnutrition, poverty and sanitation.
• ISRO’s budget is better spent to meet India’s communication needs and bring down digital divide.
• Less of a scientific pursuit and more of a space race with China and other developed countries.
Achievements of ISRO
• Chandrayaan-1, launched in 2008, orbited the moon and sent a probe to the surface which made a controlled crash landing. It remained operational till August 2009.
• India also launched the orbiter to Mars called “Mangalyaan” in 2013 and had completed more than 1100 days in orbit as of November, 2017.
• In 2017, ISRO launched a record 104 satellites in one blast-off.
• ISRO is aiming to send an unmanned mission to the moon in January 2019 called Chandrayaan-2. It will aim to put a craft with a rover onto the moon’s surface to collect data.
• NAVIC: The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System.
• The south Asia Satellite was launched in May 2017 as a “gift” to its neighbors.
• Everything said and done, if this materialises, this complex programme will truly be a national endeavour.
• Today, the youth of India needs to be inspired and the manned mission is sure to capture the imagination of millions of them.
• Finally, as they say “A nation that shares passion for science and technology will shine forever.”