At a press conference, ISRO chief K Sivan announced that India is planning to launch its own space station by 2029. He said ISRO will not be collaborating with any other countries for this venture and that the space station is going to be an extension of Gaganyaan, the country’s maiden crewed mission.
In the next 10 years, India is going to have its own space station that will be a “small module” but have the ability to conduct microgravity experiments, said ISRO. The space station will house astronauts for up to 20 days.
India’s space station will weigh about 20 tons and have docking facilities for spacecraft and other space vehicles.
“An exclusive, special cell has been created called the Gaganyaan National Advisory Council to monitor the planning and preparation of this mission,” said ISRO.
ISRO keeps India in the elite space research field
ISRO’s future missions reflect the organisation’s forward-looking, innovative mindset. After the Mission Shakti test, India’s space technology capabilities became obvious to the international community.
Although NASA critiqued India for creating more space debris, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the test with enthusiasm and pride.
“A while ago, our scientists shot down a live satellite in a low-Earth orbit. I congratulate all scientists who have made this possible and made India a much stronger nation,” he’d said in a national televised address, which became the subject of an MCC violation during the Lok Sabha elections 2019.
Now, Chandrayaan 2, India’s first crewed moon mission, has taken centre stage in the country’s bid for excellence in science and technology. If Chandrayaan 2 is successful, India will be the fourth country to have touched down on the moon.
Chandrayaan 2’s launch is on July 15 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sriharikota Island, Andhra Pradesh.
Dr. Sivan said the controlled landing of the Chandrayaan 2 rover will be especially challenging, but 500 industries and 15 different institutions will be working together to ensure the mission is a success.
India will be also launching the Gaganyaan Mission on the 75th anniversary of its Independence. This first crewed space flight is expected to cost Rs 10,000 crore.
ISRO has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Air Force for training and recruitment of astronauts, who will spend about a week in space.
Aditya L1, a solar mission to study the sun’s corona or outermost atmosphere, will also be scheduled in 2020. Another mission to study Venus’s atmosphere and topography is scheduled for 2023.
Benefits of India’s new space station
Minister of State in the Department of Space Dr. Jitendra Singh said space research has enabled Indian agencies to better infrastructure, disaster management plans and security.
India has already shown the world its capabilities when it became the first country to successfully put a spacecraft in Mars’ orbit on its first try. But now, ISRO’s plans to build a space station can also put India permanently among the elite countries in space research and technology.
Until now, only Russia, China, and the US along with a consortium of other countries own the International Space Station (ISS). Hence, India carving out a place among those countries on its own is a huge achievement.
Russia and the US have also capitalised on their unfettered access to the ISS by offering private companies and individuals commercial opportunities aboard the station.
Recently, NASA announced that it will allow visitors to the ISS for tickets worth $58 million—something Russia has been doing since 2001. The commercialisation of the ISS is expected to bring the US more revenue and inspire its younger generations towards more space research.
Although Dr. Sivan said India is not yet thinking of tourism for the space station, the country can aspire to commercialisation activities when the space station is well oiled and familiar.
The country can also spur the growth of domestic companies like SpaceX and Blue Moon in the US that are currently leading the way for innovation and technology, especially in the field of reusable rockets and crewed interplanetary missions.
The more indigenous opportunities for research, employment, and education in space research that India is able to create, the more likely it is that young professionals will choose to stay in the country and contribute to development, as well.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius.