India plans new manned rocket launch pad

Bangalore
Source:
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The Indian Space Research Organisation plans to build a third launch pad at its Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota island on India's eastern coast for its proposed 2015 manned flight.

The SDSC's two launch pads already in operation have facilities for solid propellant processing, motor static testing, launch vehicle integration and launch and range operations, including telemetry, tracking and the command network.

The manned missions launch pad will differ from the others with the addition of an on-pad emergency escape system for astronauts. With two or three astronauts travelling to a 400km (248 miles) orbit on a three-stage ISRO Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, the Rp100 billion ($2 billion) programme is awaiting approval by the Indian government.

"To launch the mission in 2015...there is a good clarity on the roadmap such as technologies required [and] the estimated Rp100 billion for the mission and the agencies that would be participating," says ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair.

The new UK government minister responsible for space, Lord Drayson, has made positive comments about the possibility of Great Britain joining other nations' human spaceflight endeavours. Appointed this month, he has said a UK astronaut decision will be made in six months time.

David Williams, the government's director of its space activities co-ordinating body, the British National Space Centre, had said that "advice to the minister" would be provided before the end of this year. That advice comes in the form of a report setting out the options.