India needs to make up mind... Jan 24, 2006 8:31:01 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jan 24, 2006 8:31:01 GMT -6
Manned Spaceflight Plans For India To The ISS And Beyond
India is at a crossroads in its national space development program, having to decide if it will invest more of its small budget on manned space flight - which could be very lucrative, long-term, but which depends on certain conditions beyond its present control- or on continued robotic and scientific missions designed to benefit national development goals.
Indian Space Research Organisation's Chairman, G Madhavan Nair, recently announced that his country will decide in a year's time on whether to develop a manned space mission.
"We have to first decide how far such a manned mission is beneficial and whether we can afford to remain without it. Only a national debate can throw up answers for a consensus to go for a manned mission," he said. Such a program is expected to cost up to Rs 15,000 to 20,000 crore.
"We need to develop a lot of new technologies to build a life-supporting system, a space capsule with safety features to survive, and a recovery operation to complete the mission. If it is decided, then we do not want to lag behind in our preparations," Nair said, adding it will take at least seven to eight years for the agency to prepare for the mission.
An un-manned mission, by comparison, would cost around Rs 3000 crore, "therefore, it has to be debated and decided whether it is worthwhile to go on with a manned mission, when the same can be achieved by robotic instruments," he added.
India sent its first astronaut, Rakesh Sharma (the 138th astronaut to go into space), aboard the Soviet spacecraft Salyut 7 in April 1984, while another astronaut, the Indian-American Kalpana Chawla (who flew into space on board the Challenger twice), was killed along with six others in the Columbia shuttle disaster in February on February 1, 2003.
The United States offered to include an Indian astronaut in future manned-space missions during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington, in July 2005, but haven't made any further commitments yet.
Full story here: www.physorg.com/news10170.html