ISRO to send astronauts, including women, to space by 2021
On Friday, ISRO chief K Sivan said that the space agency had set a target of sending Indian astronauts, including women, to space by December 2021, as part of its ambitious human spaceflight project, the Gaganyaan mission.
Earlier, the target had been 2022.
Sivan's comments came during a press conference in Bengaluru, where ISRO briefed the media about upcoming missions.
What the ISRO chief had to say about Gaganyaan
Commenting on ISRO's plans for the Gaganyaan mission, Sivan said that two unmanned test flights had been planned prior to the actual manned mission.
These test flights are slated to take place in December 2020, and July 2021, and if everything works out, Indian astronauts could be in space by December 2021.
Sivan added that success in the Gaganyaan mission could be a game-changer for ISRO.
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Recently, ISRO got a massive funding boost
Although ISRO's plans for a manned spaceflight date back to 2008, it got a fresh impetus after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Gaganyaan mission.
Till date, ISRO has spent Rs. 173cr developing critical technologies for human spaceflight, and the space agency received a massive boost recently after the Union Cabinet approved Rs. 10,000cr to make to human spaceflight a reality.
ISRO has already tested technology for spaceship re-entry
Tests for a manned spaceflight began in 2007 when ISRO tested its re-entry technology through the Satellite Recovery Experiment where a 550kg satellite was sent into orbit and successfully brought back to Earth.
The experiment successfully tested lightweight silicon tiles that can be used to protect any spaceship from heat as it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere.
ISRO has also conducted some experiments with crew modules
Years later, in 2014, ISRO carried out its Crew Module Atmospheric Re-Entry Experiment (CARE) where a 3,745kg prototype of a crew module was launched into the atmosphere and recovered successfully from the Bay of Bengal.
Then, in July 2018, ISRO conducted a Pad Abort Test using a 12.5 ton crew module to make sure that astronauts could be rescued in the event of a launchpad accident.
ISRO will use its most powerful rocket for the mission
In September last year, ISRO displayed the crew module and the spacesuits to be used by Indian astronauts, dubbed 'vyomnauts' after the Sanskrit word for space, for the Gaganyaan mission.
Reportedly, the crew module will be catapulted into outer space by ISRO's GLSV Mk-III rocket, the biggest and most powerful rocket developed by the space agency up until now.
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