Russia and India work on ISS mission

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India and Russia have set up a joint team to examine an Indian International Space Station mission early in the next decade.

Russia offered the ISS flight, and the joint team's work begins 24 years after the 1984 flight of Indian air force Sq Ldr Rakesh Sharma, India's first cosmonaut. The mission would aid India's own plans for its human spaceflight programme.

According to the Indian government's space department's 2008 annual report, the Indian Space Research Organisation has carried out a feasibility study for an orbital vehicle for up to three crew launching to a 400km (248 miles) low-Earth orbit. ISRO has budgeted Rp1 billion ($23 million) for initial work.

"A detailed project report...has been submitted to the Indian government. We are...planning to launch the mission by 2015. There is a good clarity on the roadmap for the technologies required and the estimated Rp100 billion cost," says ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair.

With Indian government approval considered imminent, the programme could start by the year's end. An Indian capsule would be launched using the country's MkIII three-stage geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle, which is capable of placing 10,000kg (22,000lb) into LEO and expected to be ready by 2010.

As well as Indian flights, Russia's Federal Space Agency has an agreement for a private Soyuz flight with an unnamed investor that could take place in 2011. Although not named by the FSA, US company Space Adventures says it has an agreement with the FSA for a private Soyuz flight that could occur in 2011.