In 2022, India is expected to send three astronauts into space for a week as part of the ambitious Gaganyaan project by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It was announced today that the Union Cabinet had approved a budget of Rs 10,000 crore for the same.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi first made the announcement for such a programme, and if this mission succeeds, India will follow Russia, the United States and China as only the fourth country in the world to independently send humans into space.
Speaking to the BBC, Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to travel into space in 1984 as part of a Soviet space mission, said, “a manned space flight is a natural corollary to every space programme that has attained a level of maturity—a coming of age if you will.”
Given below are eight things you should know about the Gaganyaan project:
1) ISRO aims to send three Indians space from the Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh on its biggest rocket—the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk- III).
2) ISRO has a 40-month timeline, and there will be what the space agency has termed a “demonstration phase” when they will first send two unmanned flights into space and subsequently a separate flight into a low earth orbit for 5-7 days with three people using indigenous technology.
3) With a “very, very tight schedule” before it, according to ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan, the Gaganyaan mission will seek assistance from countries like Russia and France to fulfil its objectives. The astronauts India will send into space will be called ‘Vyomnauts.’
4) “The aerodynamic characterisation of crew module has been completed as part of GSLV Mk-III X mission flight. Elements of life support system and space suit also have been realised and tested,” said the Centre, in a statement published today.
5) In a very significant claim, ISRO Chairman K Sivan has reportedly said that the mission will create 15,000 jobs in India, according to News 18.
“Huge potential for technology spin-offs in areas such as medicine, agriculture, industrial safety, pollution, waste management, water and food resource management etc. The programme is expected to give impetus to economic activities within the country in terms of employment generation, human resource development and enhanced industrial capabilities,” said the Centre in its statement today.
6) Thus far, ISRO has spent Rs 173 crore to develop critical technologies to send humans into space. This idea was first mooted in 2008 but left in cold storage due to the global economic crisis and other technology-related setbacks for ISRO.
7) According to NDTV, “in 2014, India tested a Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE), where a 3,745 kg space capsule—a prototype of the crew module that will be used by the Indian astronauts—was launched into the atmosphere on the first flight of the GSLV Mk III and then safely recovered from the Bay of Bengal.”
8) During his speech on August 15, Prime Minister Modi proudly claimed that “an Indian son or daughter” will carry the national flag on this trip.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)