The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has set up an internal review to decide in 2007 whether India will place a man in orbit by 2015. The expected means is India’s uprated Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III, expected to fly in 2008.

As well as the internal review, other Indian research institutions and academic centres will contribute to the study, which will consider the cost of developing a manned spaceflight capability. ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair has also called for a national debate.

“We have done the basic studies,” says B N Suresh, director of ISRO’s space vehicles development facility at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram. “The idea is that, in case there is a demand by the Indian government’s space department for putting a man into space, we should not be left behind.”

If India opts to develop a manned space programme, ISRO would have to invest in new facilities including parabolic flight aircraft to simulate zero gravity for astronaut training. India may seek international help.

Since China launched its first astronaut in October 2003 there have been calls within India for a manned space programme. India’s first astronaut, Rakesh Sharma, flew with the Soviet Union in 1984 aboard a Soyuz capsule.


Source: Flight International