Designs for India's First Manned Spaceship


New Member
Feb 16, 2009
BANGALORE, India -The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), with help from Russia, hopes to join the ranks of nations capable of independently launching astronauts into space around 2015 and has revealed the designs for its first orbiting crew capsule.

In its maiden manned mission, ISRO's largely autonomous 3-ton capsule will orbit the Earth at 248 miles (400 km) in altitude for up to seven days with a two-person crew on board, ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair announced Jan. 3 at the Indian Science Congress held in Shillong. The capsule will be designed to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be equipped with a rendezvous and docking capability, he said.

ISRO spokesman S. Satish told Space News Jan. 10 that the program is estimated to cost about 100 billion rupees ($2 billion) over an eight-year period dating back to 2007. The manned mission was formally proposed to the government in 2006.

Although full-mission funding has yet to be approved, Satish said preliminary work has already begun using 950 million rupees ($19.4 million) allocated for the effort in ISRO's 40.7 billion rupee ($834 million) budget for 2007-2008.

The necessary mission infrastructure includes a new launch pad at ISRO's Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Satish said. Another key facility is an astronaut training center to be located in Bangalore.

As a precursor to manned spaceflights, ISRO launched and recovered intact a 1,212-pound (550-kg) space capsule in January 2007, demonstrating its capability to develop heat-resistant materials necessary for atmospheric re-entry. India also launched a landmark moon probe, Chandrayaan-1, into lunar orbit last year.

But several key capabilities have yet to be developed, including a man-rated launcher featuring safety and reliability enhancements, life support systems, rescue and recovery systems, a robotic manipulator, and new mission-management and control systems, Satish said.

Satish said the astronaut capsule would launch atop a modified version of ISRO's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark 2, currently under development. The GSLV Mark 2 features an indigenously developed cryogenic upper-stage engine; the Mark 1 variant currently in use has a Russian-supplied upper stage engine. The first test launch of the standard GSLV Mark 2 launcher is scheduled for this year.

Satish said ISRO's human spaceflight program will benefit from assistance provided by the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roskosmos. The cooperative arrangement was sealed in an accord signed Dec. 5 by Nair and Roskosmos Director-General Anatoly Perminov during a state visit to India by Russian President Dimitri Medvedev.

Under the accord, an Indian cosmonaut will fly aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2013 ahead of ISRO's planned 2015 mission, Satish said.

Roskosmos will also help in crew selection and training and in construction of ISRO's orbiter vehicle.

Russia and India have a long history of space-related collaboration. In 1984, Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian in space, flying to the then-Soviet Union's Salyut-7 space station aboard a Soyuz capsule.

Today only Russia, the United States and China are capable of independently launching astronauts. China joined the exclusive club in 2003 using a capsule that was developed with Russian assistance -- Designs for India's First Manned Spaceship Revealed


Senior Member
Nov 25, 2009
India mulls options on human space flight program

India is weighing the pros and cons of going in for collaboration for its ambitious human space flight programme but a final decision would be driven by the extent of technological gains accrued to New Delhi from it.Different models are possible in undertaking the proposed mission, first mooted nearly a decade ago, Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation K. Radhakrishnan told PTI.
Mr. Radhakrishnan, also Secretary in the Department of Space and Chairman of Space Commission, said there is a lot of discussion globally on collaboration in human space flight programmes (not India—specific, but general in nature).
"So, then, we should decide what we have to do in this area. There are different models available," he said.
One possibility is to have a human being (Indian) flown in Soyuz (Russian rocket) or some other system. "It's like paying the money, getting into it, conduct a small experiment and come back. That's one part of it," he said.
Another model is to make a crew module indigenously and use a man-rate vehicle (rocket) of a foreign space agency, and the third option for India is to develop the rocket and associated technologies on its own and undertake the mission.
"All these things are there. The question is how much technology you will earn, what benefit you will get out of it (in case of collaboration). One has to weigh it because you (India) must have a long-term programme for it (human space flights). We are not doing for the sake of doing it (the human space flight mission) actually," Mr. Radhakrishnan said.
"The question is when you take it (the programme) into future direction, how does it help you," Mr. Radhakrishnan said.
All these models are possible. We are not closed on any of these options. But one has to study as to how does it lead you to the future," he added.
Asked if ISRO would initiate discussions with US and Russian space agencies for possible collaboration, he said, "All these discussions will take place," and added that the entire space community is generally interested in such programmes (internationally).
On whether India is open to collaboration on this programme, Mr. Radhakrishnan said "there are no hard positions on this. But one has to look at it." "We have to weigh pros and cons. Finally, (the decision depends on) what benefit India gets in the immediate term and in the long term." Even as it weighs options, ISRO is busy working on critical technologies needed for this complex mission.
The programme envisages the development of a fully autonomous orbital vehicle carrying two or three crew members to about 300 km low earth orbit and their safe return.
Three major areas that ISRO needs to master are, environmental control and life support (ECLS) system, crew escape system and flight suite and it's currently working on them, under pre-project studies for which the Government sanctioned Rs 145 crore.
ISRO conducted initial studies for four years from 2002 to examine the technological challenges for the programme, then called manned space mission, and Indian capability.
In 2006, about 80 senior scientists from across the country who attended a meeting convened by ISRO, were highly appreciative of the study conducted by the space agency and unanimous in suggesting that the time is appropriate for India to undertake such a mission.
Since then, the Space department has been engaged in pre-project activities to study technical and managerial issues related to undertaking the mission with an aim to build and demonstrate the country's capability.
At the time, the preliminary estimated cost for the proposed mission was Rs 10,000 crore spread over a period of eight years, including setting up mission-specific facilities.
Subsequently, it was scaled up to Rs 12,400 crore in 2007-08.
ISRO officials indicated then in private that the mission could take place in 2015-16 time-frame if every thing went as planned but the space agency had never committed itself on the likely dates, always maintaining that seven to eight years are needed once the project is taken up.
Even today, the project, per se, is yet to be taken up though work on various technologies is underway.
The twin-failure of the home-grown rocket, GSLV, last year -- one with indigenous cryogenic engine and stage, and another with the imported Russian one -- has certainly put the clock back by two-three years.
Asked if one could expect the human space flight only towards the end of this decade, Mr. Radhakrishnan refused to commit a time-frame.
"See, it takes its own time. You have to have that time. You have to have your vehicle (rocket)," he said.
Bangalore-headquartered ISRO said its PSLV (rocket) cannot be used for such a mission as it does not have capacity and GSLV-MK II has a limitation that it can take only two persons. GSLV-MK III which is under development certainly can take three persons with some more space left.
"When you have to take up human-rating activity, you have to decide on which vehicle. So the vehicle has to be (first) proved for unmanned flight. We are at that stage now. So, we have to decide whether GSLV—MK II or MK III that we will do this human rating," he said.
"Then, we can have the mission. Without a vehicle, talking about a mission has not much of a challenge actually," the ISRO Chairman said.
ISRO says it has to have a couple of good flights of GSLV before it could talk about the mission per se. "First priority is to have GSLV flight with indigenous cryogenic and meeting the mission requirements," he said.
The next GSLV flight is scheduled only after April next year. Mr. Radhakrishnan said, the human space flight mission can take place seven years from the project's start, which he would not be able to say right now.
"Let's not talk about the mission, per se. But critical technologies we are working on," he said.
He said a number of mission-specific facilities, such as one for astronauts, mission control centre and launch pad, need to be established.
The selected astronauts would have to undergo a training course for two-and-half-years.

The Hindu : Sci-Tech / Science : India mulls options on human space flight programme

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