India’s pride, ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) is continuing to surprise the whole world once again with its latest announcement. Let me remind you that India’s ISRO is the first organization to successfully launch a mission to Mars in its very first attempt. Isn’t it remarkable? And now recently, they surprise us again with huge and great news regarding space exploration. Let’s find out what is it. So without any further ado, let’s get started.
Dr. K. Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), recently, addressed the media on June 2019 and announced that India plans to have its own space station, Gaganyaan, in the Earth’s lower orbit, scheduled for December 2021.
Addressing the media, he said, “We want to have a separate space station. We will launch a small module for microgravity experiments. That is our ambition.”. A detailed report would be submitted to the government after the mission.
How it would be?
The proposed space station would likely to weigh 20 tonnes and serve as a facility where astronauts can stay for 15-20 days, and it would be placed in the Earth’s lower orbit, 300-400 km above the Earth’s surface.
The first phase of this program is to develop and fly the 3.7-ton spacecraft with a capacity to carry a 3-member crew in low Earth orbit and safely return to Earth after a mission duration of a few orbits to two days. The first crewed flight is planned for December 2021. The extendable version of the spacecraft will allow flights up to 7 days, with docking capability.
Note: A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting crew members, designed to remain in space for an extended period of time and for other spacecraft to dock.
Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), said the project was on track to be realized by the 75th Independence Day or even earlier. The cost approved by the Union Cabinet estimated is whooping ₹10,000 crore ($1.5 Billion).
Dr. Singh said, “All is going according to the plan so far and a Gaganyaan National Advisory Council has been created with members from different institutions and industries to oversee and advise on the mission. Selection of 2-3 crew members for Gaganyaan would be done in six months.” They would then undergo training for 1-1½ years after that.
The initial phase of training would be in India and the advanced stage would be done abroad as the requisite facilities did not exist in India yet.
A GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle would be used to launch the Gaganyaan. The proposed mission aims to send a 2-3 person crew to space for a period of 7 days. The spacecraft would be placed in the lower Earth’s orbit of 300-400 km above the Earth’s surface.
Note: Currently, there is only one fully functional space station in the Earth’s orbit, the International Space Station (ISS) and astronauts conduct different experiments in it.
The International Space Station (ISS): A fully functional space station
The International Space Station (ISS), a joint project of 16 countries, is a partnership between European countries represented by European Space Agency (ESA), the United States of America (NASA), Japan (JAXA), Canada (CSA) and Russia (Roscosmos). It is the world’s largest international cooperative program in science and technology till so far.
If you want to know more about ISS then please go through this article.
China also plans to build its own modular space station under the Tiangong program, which would be the world’s third multi-module space station, to follow Mir and the ISS, which is scheduled in 2020.
China launched its first space laboratory, Tiangong-1, on September 29, 2011. It re-entered and burned up in the atmosphere on April 2, 2018. Following Tiangong-1, a more advanced space laboratory, Tiangong-2, was launched on September 15, 2016.
Note: Mir was a space station that operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, operated by the Soviet Union (Russia).
If all goes well with no hiccups and completed on schedule, India will become the world’s fourth nation to conduct independent human spaceflight after the Russia (formerly the Soviet Union), United States and China.
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