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India to have its own space station

The Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) recently announced it plans to have its own space station, and the modalities for it will be worked out after the first manned mission, Gaganyaan (sky craft), which is scheduled for August 2022.

ISRO’s Chairman said that the organisation wants to have a separate space station. It will launch a small module for microgravity experiments. A detailed report will be submitted to the government after the Gaganyaan mission.

According to reports, the project has already got clearance and the Department of Space (DoS) has reserved IN ₹10 crore (about US $1.4 million) for it. ISRO intends to develop technology that will allow it to transfer humans from one vehicle or spacecraft to another, but the immediate goal is to enable the refuelling of spacecraft to give them a longer life. Also, to transfer other crucial systems to an existing spacecraft, by transporting another to space.

Gaganyaan is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft developed under the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme. The spacecraft is being designed to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be equipped with docking capability.

Last week, ISRO held the first Gaganyaan National Advisory Council meeting. According to a press release, the council deliberated in detail on several aspects of the project. It highlighted the need to set priorities at various National Institutions including industries to accomplish Gaganyaan. The council discussed life support systems and crew selection and training.

ISRO also plans to launch two other missions to study the sun and Venus. The mission to the sun, named Aditya-L1, is expected to be launched in 2020 and the mission to Venus in mid-2023.

Aditya-1 was meant to observe only the solar corona (the outer layers of the sun).  It has a temperature of more than a million-degrees Kelvin.

Aditya-L1 with additional experiments can now provide observations of the sun’s photosphere (soft and hard X-ray), chromosphere (UV) and the corona (visible and NIR). Also, particle payloads will study the particle flux emanating from the sun and reaching the L1 orbit, and the magnetometer payload will measure the variation in magnetic field strength at the halo orbit around L1.

As reported earlier, ISRO, through its programme called RESPOND (Sponsored Research), is encouraging academia to participate in more research and development activities.

RESPOND provides support to research projects in several fields of space technology and applications to universities and institutions.

ISRO has also set up Space Technology Cells at various institutions, including Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs) based in Bombay, Kanpur, Kharagpur, and Madras. The Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the University of Pune (UoP) will collaborate on research activities.

There have been cooperative programs with the Canadian Space Agency and UK universities on India’s astronomy satellite, ASTROSAT. Similar cooperation programs have been established in the past on the Chandrayaan-1 mission with NASA and the European Space Agency.

Some of the other recent initiatives for capacity building include setting up of Space Technology Incubation Centres (S-TIC) and Regional Academic Centres for Space (RAC-S).

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