Sunday, August 19, 2018

India Aims to Send Its First Manned Mission to Space by 2022

Narendra Modi greets the people as he proceeds towards the dais to address the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort during the 72nd Independence Day function in New Delhi on August 15, 2018. Photo Credit: PTI

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled on Wednesday, August 15, an ambitious plan to send first Indian to space by 2022. The announcement was made when he was addressing the nation during Independence Day celebrations at the historic Red Fort in Delhi.

Modi’s speech was generally focused on underlining the government’s achievements in recent years and on introducing a new health insurance scheme. However, part of his address was dedicated to science issues, including the nation’s space program.

"Today, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, I want to give the country a good news. India has always advanced in space science but we have decided that by 2022 when India completes 75 years of Independence, or before that, a son or daughter of India will go to space with a tricolor in their hands," Modi said.

If the plan succeeds, India will become the fourth country to independently send a human to space. So far, this feat has been only achieved by Russia, the United States and China.

Although completing this goal in just four years may be very challenging for India, officials from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), seem to be confident about the success.

K Sivan, the Chairman of ISRO, said that although the launch schedule is very tight, they “will do it by 2022”. He underlined the importance of India’s first manned space mission by referring to it as the effort of the whole country that will boost national pride.

Modi’s declaration could speed up the development of ISRO’s crewed orbital capsule that is being designed to carry up to three astronauts into space. The spacecraft, weighing around 3.7 metric tons, would be used to send crews into a low-Earth orbit (LEO) at an altitude of about 250 miles (400 kilometers).

First experimental flight of India’s future capsule for manned mission, known as Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE), was conducted on December 18, 2014. The test flight ended in success as the module demonstrated that it could survive atmospheric re-entry.

More recently, on July 5, 2018, ISRO successfully carried out an emergency Pad Abort Test (PAT), what marked the first step to qualify India’s indigenous Crew Escape System technology for launching astronauts into space. During this trial run, the Crew Escape System along with the simulated crew module weighing around 12.6 metric tons, took to the skies and reached an altitude of nearly 1.68 miles (2.7 kilometers). The flight concluded when the module floated back to Earth under its parachutes some 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) away from the launch pad.

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