Sunday, January 4, 2009

India plans big for space

After basking in the glory of a successful mission to moon, Indian space scientists are now planning to send a man to space in an Indian spacecraft.

The scientists expect to realise the dream by 2015.

The project will involve an expenditure of Rs 12,000 crore.

The proposal for the mission has been submitted to the government and the pre- project clearance has already been given.

"It will be a major turning point for Indian space scientists after the successful mission to moon," G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said at the 96th session of the Indian Science Congress.

Though sending a manned mission to moon is still quite far, the space scientists have started working on designs and logistics of a space capsule that will carry humans around the earth at a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) - an orbit which extends from the earth's surface up to an altitude of 2,000 km - and bring them back, Nair said. "We have postulated the idea." The capsule will have the capacity to carry three persons to the space and return to a pre- determined destination on earth. The mission duration will be up to seven days.

The designing of the spacecraft will involve many technologies.

It has to be equipped with radiation protection system and life- support system. It will also have a waste management system. ISRO has developed a conceptual design and has envisaged the technologies that need to be developed. It will take three to four years for the ideas to materialise.

Managing the crew's safety will be a crucial part of the mission.

If anything goes wrong, the capsule should be able to abort the mission and implement a crew escape system.

The mission will involve creating ground stations and launch facilities, besides crew training.

Nair said a preliminary review and assessment of India's first moon mission will be carried out at the end of this month.

India's mooncraft Chandrayaan has started mapping the lunar surface to see whether there are any minerals like helium or water on the moon.

The cameras on the Chandrayaan have caught over 35,000 images of the moon.

Nair said sending the mission to moon was not simple as the challenge was to escape earth's gravity and influence of the sun and the moon.

However, India's moon mission was more precise than those launched by other countries.

Thirty per cent US missions have crashlanded on the moon, he said.

Indian scientists also overcame challenges managing temperature on the moon, which is quite hot. In fact, subsystems had started failing due to the high temperature.

However, scientists could reorient the spacecraft. "All is now well," Nair said. The next mission to moon will involve sending a lander which will go around the moon and pick up samples.

From Mail Today

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