India's $3 billion manned capsule awaits approval

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The Indian Space Research Organisation expects by the end of the year to have government approval for a $3 billion manned spacecraft programme designed to launch a three-crew capsule to orbit by 2016.

Uusing ISRO's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MkIII rocket to launch the capsule, the organisation's chairman G Madhavan Nair says preliminary study work has been under way. He adds that the agency has had discussions with Russia's Federal Space Agency, which helped China with its manned space programme. Nair says that the capsule would be an entirely domestic design and that Russia could provide "test facilities and the astronaut training we need".

Speaking to Flightglobal at the 1st European Union European Space Agency international conference on human space exploration, he added that the MkIII, which has its maiden flight in 2011, would be ready to launch astronauts. ISRO wants to join the International Space Station programme and it could provide crew transport.