ISRO

India is Going to be Sending Three People to Space in Three Years

One of the most notable features of the modern space age is the way that new participants are entering the fray. In addition to the traditional contenders – NASA and Roscosmos – China has become a major player in space in recent decades. And in 2022, according tor recent statements, India will join the club too when it becomes the fourth nation to send a crewed mission to space.

During a cabinet-level meeting that took place on Friday, Dec. 25th, the government of India announced that the Indian Space Research Organization‘s (ISRO) first crewed mission to space will consist of a three-astronaut team being sent to orbit. The government also announced that they had a approved a budget of $1.4 billion to fund the development of the requisite technology and infrastructure for the program.

The decisions to send astronauts to space was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15th, during India’s Independence Day celebrations. At that time, Modi directed the ISRO to conduct a crewed mission to orbit by 2022, which would coincide with the 75th anniversary of India gaining its independence.

The ISRO recently unveiled the spacesuit that the first crewed mission to space would be wearing. Credit: ISRO

A month later, during the sixth annual Bengaluru Space Expo (BSX 2018), the ISRO and its commercial arm (the Antrix Corporation Ltd) showcased the spacesuits that the astronauts would be wearing for the mission. Also featured was the crew escape module that will be taking the astronauts into space, which was successfully tested in July of 2018.

However, the cabinet had not yet approved the statement or committed the necessary funds at a time. But with this latest statement, the government of India has declared that it is all-in on sending astronauts to space and stepping up its rivalry with China. The statement also made clear that India intends to become a “collaborating partner in future global space exploration initiatives with long term national benefits.”

The statement also indicated that the crewed flight would range in duration from one orbital period to a maximum of seven days. Prior to the astronauts going into space, two uncrewed missions would be launched using the ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mk. III) and the Gaganyaan (“sky-vehicle”) spacecraft.

While a specific date has not yet been set, the government did say that the crewed flight will be taking place “within 40 months” of Friday’s meeting. And at a cost of $1.4 billion, it will be the most inexpensive space program to date.  For comparison, China sent astronauts to space for the first time in 2003 with its Shenzhou program, which cost more than $2.3 billion.

The first Long March 5 rocket being rolled out for launch at Wenchang in late October 2016. Credit: Su Dong/China Daily

Meanwhile, Project Mercury – NASA’s first crewed missions to orbit, which ran from 1958 to 1963 – cost an estimated $1.6 billion while the Apollo program cost roughly $174.5 billion. This latest statement is significant because India hopes to conduct lunar missions in the near future. This is expected to commence with the ISRO’s first uncrewed mission to the Moon in 2019.

While India hopes that it’s low-cost program will give it an edge in the space market (especially where commercial satellites are concerned), it also hopes that the program will boost the country’s economy, provide jobs, and spur on the development of technology. The government also hopes that this program will allow India to become a more active partners in initiatives like the International Space Station (ISS) and lunar exploration.

This mission will also be the latest in series of very impressive strides made by the ISRO in the last decade. These include the launch of India’s first lunar explorer (Chandrayaan-1) in 2008, the Mangalayaan mission – aka. the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) – in 2013, and a record-setting deployment of 104 satellites in a single launch this past year.

Further Reading: AFP

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is the Curator of Universe Today's Guide to Space. He is also a freelance writer, a science fiction author and a Taekwon-Do instructor. He lives with his family on Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia.

Recent Posts

NASA is Going Ahead With a Hopping Lander to Explore the Lunar Surface

Methods of movement for robotic explorers of other worlds have been as varied as the…

4 hours ago

Two Bizarre red Asteroids Somehow Migrated From the Kuiper Belt all the way to the Main Asteroid Belt

If asked to pick what color asteroids in the asteroid belt would be, red is…

4 hours ago

NASA Chooses Falcon Heavy Over SLS to Launch Europa Clipper, Saving About $2 Billion

The bureaucracy of government control is slowly fading away in space exploration, at least in…

1 day ago

A Black Hole Emitted a Flare Away From us, but its Intense Gravity Redirected the Blast Back in our Direction

Using the XMM-Newton and NuSTAR X-ray telescopes, an international team of scientists were able to…

2 days ago

Lightweight Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic Fuel Tanks Pass a Critical Test, and Could Knock a lot of Weight off a Rocket’s dry Mass

Material science is still the unsung hero of space exploration.  Rockets are flashier, and control…

3 days ago

InSight has Mapped out the Interior of Mars, Revealing the Sizes of its Crust, Mantle, and Core

In a series of newly-published papers, NASA scientists have shown how InSight's seismic data allowed…

4 days ago