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ISRO aims for the stars: Plans space station, missions to Venus and Sun

Shreya Jai/New Delhi 13 Jun 19 | 06:16 PM

India plans to have its own space station in the near future as the country’s apex space agency develops a three-pronged approach to expanding its presence in the outer skies. The approach focuses on continuous launch of advanced satellites, missions to other planetary bodies, and having an Indian in space in own spacecraft.

The Gaganyaan programme, India’s maiden mission to take human in space, scheduled for 2022, would be extended to launch the space station, Kailasavadivoo Sivan, chairperson of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), said on Thursday.  A space station is a spacecraft in orbit around the Earth which serves as a base for astronauts and cosmonauts to carry out scientific experiments.

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“We have to sustain the Gaganyaan programme after the launch of the human space mission. In this context, India is planning to have its own space station," Sivan said.

The government has set aside a budget of Rs 10,000 crore for Gaganyaan. There would be two flights from Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota without the crew before the maiden flight with crew sometime in 2022. “We are aiming that before or around India’s 75th Independence Day in 2022," said Jitendra Singh, minister of state at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Isro said the proposed space station would be a small module, and that there were no commercial plans as such. “The station would be used to conduct micro-gravity experiments. The initial plan is to check if astronauts can stay for 15-20 days in space. However, the specific details would emerge after India concludes its first manned mission," said an ISRO official.

Isro Chief Kailasavadivoo Sivan (left) with Union Minister of State Jitendra Singh during a conference in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: PTI

Among other plans, Isro is planning a mission to the Sun’s orbit and another to planet Venus. The space agency also announced the Aditya L1 mission, which would orbit around the Sun to study its corona. Sivan said the mission would help in various studies around climate change as the corona had an impact on the same. The mission to Venus is part of Isro’s plan to study the inner solar system under which it sent its own space orbitor around Mars. It would carry 20-25 payloads, said Sivan. He said all these missions would be completely indigenous.

By September, India will become the fourth nation to land on the Moon with its Chandrayaan-2 mission, which will be launched on July 15. Isro expects to continue its research on the presence of water and minerals on the Moon, after Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 released its Moon Impact Probe where it found debris that was analysed for the presence of water.

SETTING SIGHTS ON A BIGGER TARGET 

A space station is a spacecraft in orbit around the Earth which serves as a base for astronauts and cosmonauts to carry out scientific experiments Currently, there is only one fully functional space station in the Earth's lower orbit — the International Space Station  The ISS is a partnership between European countries represented by European Space Agency, the United States (NASA), Japan (JAXA), Canada (CSA) and Russia (Roscosmos)

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