Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has gathered praise from across the world in past few features for maintaining an impeccable record when it comes to the number of missions undertaken, the number of satellites, while keeping the entire operation competitively quite cost-effective. The organization has aimed at some ambitious targets for the coming years while taking contracts from other countries to help launch their satellites with their in-house booster. The organization has always been in the limelight because of its achievements on a considerably lower budget and success rate.
ISRO has come under renewed focus from the world over after Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi announced on August 15 that India will attempt to take a human space flight by the year 2022. This comes months after K Sivan, an ISRO veteran was announced as the new Chairman of the organization. With such a critical deadline, Sivan along with the 17,000 ISRO employees which include about 12,000 scientists, is focusing on making this mission a success. Sivan shared his thoughts about the mission while talking to The Economic Times giving us a glimpse of how critical this mission is for the Indian space program.
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Importance of the mission
According to a detailed report, Sivan pointed out that this mission is not limited to the fact that ISRO is sending a man to space. Instead, it is important because this will push the scientists to work on new solutions and technologies to overcome the problems that current technology may face.
This will help ISRO and India in extension, improve its technological and scientific capabilities. He clarified that the project will not be limited to just ISRO and will include other industries and institutions as well.
Following up to the final mission
ISRO and its partner institutions need to learn and figure out a number of things from astronaut training to recovering them from the sea where they will land to even building the habitat module for them. This will include the necessary life support systems and space suits. However, ISRO is also planning to undertake two missions without any humans before the final mission with humans in 2022 to ensure that they are progressing on the correct path.
These missions will be undertaken in 2020 with a gap on six months between so that ISRO can learn, make changes, and improvements to its systems so that they can keep the astronaut safe including the all-important environment control system. The team has already tested the crew escape system and it will start work on developing systems that will keep the spacecraft safe from micro-meteorites in space.
The announcement of August 15
Sivan and ISRO were expecting the announcement soon but they did not anticipate that it will be made on August 15, 2018.
Cost of the project
Talking about the all-important factor of cost, Sivan stated that he was “confident that the project will be under 10,000 crore.” ISRO is currently forming a project management team to ensure smooth sailing for the mission.
Challenges and collaboration
He further stated that ISRO has “crossed many milestones and surpassed many challenges” and the organization is currently working on research and development of different parts of the mission. This includes “many difficult stages” including crew escape system. ISRO is expecting that it will not face any further challenges as it has already crossed the crew escape system stage.
Sivan also stated that ISRO will be collaborating with a number of companies in the industry for many technologies that will be part of the final module. He stated that everything will be done by India along with a focus to reduce the time and cost of development.
ISRO stated that it wants to improve the capacity of its outreach program to build enthusiasm about the mission. To do this, it is planning to form a “month-long” training program for children so that they can come to the labs to learn about missions. According to the report, the organization also wants to launch ISRO TV which will extend beyond space to cover science as a larger topic. It is still working on the details of these programs but Sivan hopes that these will be ready by early next year.