India aims to send its first crewed mission to space by 2022
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled on Wednesday, August 15, an ambitious plan to send the first Indian to space by 2022. The announcement was made when he was addressing the nation during Independence Day celebrations at the historic Red Fort in Delhi.
Modi’s speech was generally focused on underlining the government’s achievements in recent years and on introducing a new health insurance plan. However, part of his address was dedicated to science issues, including the nation’s space program.
“Today, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, I want to give the country a good news. India has always advanced in space science but we have decided that by 2022 when India completes 75 years of Independence, or before that, a son or daughter of India will go to space with a tricolor in their hands,” Modi said.
If the plan succeeds, India will become the fourth country to independently send a human to space. So far, this feat has been only achieved by Russia, the United States and China.
Although completing this goal in just four years may be very challenging for India, officials from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), seem to be confident they will be successful.
K Sivan, the Chairman of ISRO, said that although the launch schedule is very tight, they “will do it by 2022”. He underlined the importance of India’s first crewed space mission by referring to it as an effort that would be made by the whole country and that it will boost national pride.
Modi’s declaration could be used to rally support and to speed up the development of ISRO’s crewed orbital capsule that is being designed to carry up to three astronauts to space. The spacecraft, weighing around 3.7 metric tons, would be used to send crews to a low-Earth orbit (LEO) at an altitude of about 250 miles (400 kilometers).
The first test flight of India’s new vehicle for crewed missions, known as Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE), was conducted on Dec. 18, 2014. The flight ended in success as the module demonstrated that it could survive atmospheric re-entry.
More recently, on July 5, 2018, ISRO successfully carried out an emergency Pad Abort Test (PAT). This marked the first step to qualify India’s indigenous Crew Escape System technology for launching astronauts. During this trial run, the Crew Escape System along with the simulated crew module (which weighed in at around 12.6 metric tons), took to the skies and reached an altitude of nearly 1.68 miles (2.7 kilometers). The flight concluded when the module floated back to Earth under its parachutes some 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) away from the launch site.
Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.