ISRO chief says approval for Indian astronaut programme likely soon

New Delhi, April 13, 2010

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Radhakrishnan said the Government was likely to announce India's indigenous astronaut launch programme, involving the launching of Indian astronauts using an Indian rocket from Indian soil, within a couple of months.

In an interview to NDTV, Dr Radharkishnan said that while the technical capabilities existed, the Government was yet to give its nod for ISRO's approval.

He said the approval for the Rs 12,400 crore venture might come soon, even before Independence Day.

"We expect that the government will give us approval in a couple of months," he said.

He said the proposal was to put two Indian astronauts in space. With this, India will join a select club of the United States, Russia and China which have such human space flight capabilities.

According to Dr Radhakrishnan, ISRO was ready to launch Indian astronauts by 2017. "As of now what we have is a pre-project study," he said.

He said the programme would be implemented in phases. The first phase is to test the unmanned crew module; a service module in space four years from now. After that the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) will be used to launch the Indian astronauts, he said.

He said the Rs 12,400 crores would be needed over seven years for setting up of several ground facilities like launch pads, the mission control centre, astronaut training centre, all permanent assets.

"What goes into the orbit will be [costing] about three to four thousand crores," he said.

Dr Radhakrishnan said India's space programme had given back to the country much more than what had been put into it by the Government, citing the direct benefits accruing from the remote sensing and communication satellites, among other things.

"So when this programme is proved in the human space flight, with the long term vision that we have, 30- 40 years from now, probably you could have a new source of energy. You will have several technologies which will be giving benefit to the other sectors in the economy," he added.

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