Former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman G Madhavan Nair on Friday expressed his excitement regarding ISRO's plans for launching its own space station.
He described the planned mission as the 'most-exciting' yet which would help India to maintain a strong position in space. Nair referred to ISRO's Gaganyaan mission and said that India will have the potential to carry out a manned mission to space by 2022. The former Secretary for Department of Space also said that:
"After the success of Gaganyaan, establishing a space platform should be our next step."
He also stated some of the time barriers that are faced by ISRO but asserted that this was the most exciting project:
"Normally, such major projects take time, to conceive, design, go-ahead and implement," Nair said. "So, if the government has given a note to such a project, I think it's the most exciting as far as ISRO is concerned."
This was confirmed by K Sivan, the current ISRO Chairperson who announced on Thursday that the proposed space station would weigh around 20 tonnes. A space station is an advanced spacecraft capable of supporting crew members. It is designed to remain in space for a prolonged period of time and for holding other spacecraft.
As of now, there is only one space station, the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS is hub to a number of experiments that are conducted in space by astronauts. The ISS is a collaborative effort of European countries represented by the European Space Agency, the United States (NASA), Japan (JAXA), Canada (CSA) and Russia (Roscosmos). It is the world's largest international cooperative program in science and technology.
Nair also said that during his term as a Chairman of ISRO, they had to "scale" the proposed space station as per requirements, which would be functional by 2025-2030 time-frame. The former ISRO chief further added that:
Around USD 120 billion had been spent on establishing the ISS, which is being maintained at a cost of USD 6-7 billion annually.
"That kind of thing (scale of ISS)... I don't think we should embark on, (we need) really an affordable, low-cost platform where ordinary scientists can go and do the experiments and also it can meet various national priorities," he said.
According to him, ISRO has the capability of installing a 2-tonne space station. He also mentioned the available rocket which could be used to carry space station components:
"(ISRO's) GSLV-Mk-III (launch vehicle) can carry a 10-tonne module at a time. So, with available capacity, we can do that.
However, he later said that ISRO has other plans to develop semi-cryogenic engines and boosters, citing that ISRO's plans still contribute for the greater good.
"But, at the same time, the ISRO has in their next 10-year profile, an action for developing semi-cryogenic engine and developing boosters based on that. That will actually enhance our capability for launch also in this time-frame," he added.
In addition, he said that India will aim for a scaled down or a smaller version of the ISS, which also means that ISRO is setting up its space station keeping in mind, just the functionality and not luxury. Nair concluded his statements by once again lauding ISRO and said that the decision was necessary if we are to maintain a leadership position in the space arena.
Meanwhile, ISRO also confirmed it Chandrayaan-2 launch which is scheduled for July 15, 2019 at 02.51 Hrs from Sriharikota.