India to send manned mission to space by 2022

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his 72nd Independence Day speech at Red Fort on Wednesday expressed his desire to unfurl tricolor in space by 2022.

• PM wishes that an Indian astronaut, be it a man or woman will undertake its first ever Manned Space Mission by 2022 on board ‘Gaganyaan’.

• Till now, only Russia, US, and China have been able to conduct independent human space missions. Deadline is tight but scientists at ISRO believe it is possible.

• India’s premier space agency has already carved out a niche in the commercial satellite space, its recent fame being the cheapest successful Mars mission. A human space mission is the next big step and it is already on the job.

• ISRO has roped in Indian Air Force pilots to identify the first set of astronauts for a human space flight. IAF pilot Rakesh Sharma was the only Indian to have traveled in space. He flew aboard the Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11 in 1984. Kalpana Chawla, one of the seven crew members who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, was an American astronaut of Indian Origin.

• ISRO recently tested a crew escape system, which is a capsule that ejects from a rocket if it explodes on the launch pad.

• The crew escape system is a series of technology building blocks that Isro is developing for an eventual mission to carry astronauts to space. It is a crucial emergency escape measure designed to quickly pull the spacecraft that houses the astronauts to a safe distance from the launch vehicle in the event of a rocket explosion.

• Isro has so far built a capsule that can re-enter from space, space suits, food for astronauts in collaboration with Defence Research and Development Organisation, and is working on an astronaut-training facility on the outskirts of Bangaluru.

• However, the agency also needs to build the right environment control facilities that can house three astronauts in the capsule.

• So far, the government has granted Rs 145 crore to do initial studies for a manned mission to space. According to reports, it is yet to approve the project that could potentially cost over $2 billion.

• India has been working on human spaceflight for over a decade, but it still does not have a rocket powerful enough to carry astronauts into space.

• Isro is operationalizing its geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle MK-3 later this year. This rocket could potentially carry around eight tonnes of spacecraft to lower earth orbit. However, it has to be human-rated or make it so safe that the possibility of error could be one in a million.

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