The Indian Space Research Organization is focused on sending Indian astronauts into space.
As a prelude to this event, the organization plans to put into space an unmanned crew module to orbit the earth via a modified PSLV in 2013. Sources at ISRO say that soon after this event, they intend to send two Indians into space. The plan is that the astronauts will be at low-earth orbit and stay in space for a week before returning to earth.
The ISRO plans to build another launch pad at Sriharikota, where two launch pads already exist, at the cost of approximately Rs.1,000 crore. The craft that will take Indian astronauts to outer space will be assembled and launched from this location, say the sources. This information was put out to the public after the successful launch and placing in orbit of five satellites – including the advanced high resolution cartography satellite Cartosat-2B, through the PSLV rocket, from Sriharikota, 80kms from Chennai.
Sources also made it clear that this string of successes in the field of space research was clearing the way for ISRO to continue with their plans to launch GSat-5, a communication satellite, using GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) rocket. And the Resourscesat-2, a remote sensing satellite, using the rocket PSLV. According to the sources the next rocket that was launched would carry multiple satellites – the Resourcesat-2 and two small satellites. According to reports, all the subsystems required to carry this out are already in place, and the launch is expected to take place before October of this year.
More work is required to get the manned mission up and in orbit. The first phase involves work on the orbital vehicle, which will have the life support systems and escape systems for the crew. The module for the human mission is reportedly already past the design stage with thermal proofing, life-support systems and crew escape systems already defined. Once this phase is completed, it will be launched in a PSLV and tested for efficiency etc. This unmanned module would be identical to the one that would take humans into orbit.
The second phase would involve the building of the launch pad and a training centre for astronauts. In the normal time frame, it takes an average of three years for an astronaut’s training to be complete. This week’s successful launch of the PSLV carrying five satellites is seen as a statement of the country’s growing abilities in Space science. The 44 meter high PSLV was built by the ISRO and the five satellites together weighed 819 kgs.