An unmanned crew module will be put in orbit around the earth by a modified Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in 2013 as a forerunner to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) sending two Indians into space, S. Ramakrishnan, Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, ISRO, said here on Monday.
India has plans to send two astronauts in a low-earth orbit and they will stay in space for about a week before returning to the earth. A third launch pad, at a cost of Rs.1,000 crore, will be built at Sriharikota, where the rocket that will take the astronauts into space will be assembled and launched.
Mr. Ramakrishnan told journalists here, after the successful PSLV-C15 flight, that the module for the astronauts had already been designed. The life-support systems, thermal-proofing and the crew escape system in case of an emergency had been defined. “We are also planning a launch pad abort for the crew in case of an accident,” Mr. Ramakrishnan said.
PSLV-C15 Mission Director P. Kunhikrishnan said that the satellites went to their precise orbits. If the mission was to inject five satellites into a polar orbit an altitude of 637 km, the final figure was an apogee of 637.39 km and a perigee of 631 km.
There was no “hold” in the 51-hour countdown to the launch. The PSLV-C15 lifted off majestically at the appointed time of 9.22 a.m., painting the sky with yellow flames. At the end of 17 minutes and 14 seconds of the flight, the satellites were home and dry.
There was applause when T.K. Alex, Director of ISRO Satellite Centre in Bangalore, announced that the Studsat’s signals were received at the ground station in Bangalore and those of the Alsat in Algeria. While the PSLV-C15 cost Rs.80 crore, the Cartosat-2B cost Rs.175 crore.
The PSLV – C15 Vehicle Director was B. Jayakumar and the Satellite Director M. Krishnaswamy.
Speaking on the Human Spaceflight Programme, ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said ISRO needed a highly reliable vehicle to take humans into space. Such rockets were called human rated vehicles. Certain crucial facilities such as a new launch pad for sending human beings into space had to be built at the spaceport at Sriharikota.
Facilities to handle the astronauts when they returned to the earth also needed to be built. In the first phase of the programme, these critical technologies, including that of re-entry, would be developed. In the second phase, a human rated vehicle would be developed. In the third phase, astronauts would be trained to go into space.
N. Narayanamoorthy, Chief Executive, Human Spaceflight Programme, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, said the most important technology to be developed was the crew escape system. In the first phase, the module for astronauts and a PSLV with a modified first stage would be built. It would be an unmanned module but identical to the final module. The location for the third launch pad site had been decided upon, said M.C. Dathan, Director, Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. It would boast of a vehicle assembly building.
R.R. Navalgund, Director, Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, said Cartosat-2B, launched on Monday from Sriharikota, could be used in a variety of ways, depending on the imagination of the user. The images taken by its panchromatic camera could be used for planning roads in villages, building harbours, preparing accurate maps, keeping a watch on encroachments, and for various infrastructural activities, said Dr. Navalgund.
(Cartosat-2B’s images will have a resolution of 0.8 metres, i.e. from a height of 637 km it can take pictures of objects on the earth which are three foot long.)
P.S. Veeraraghavan, Director, VSSC, said a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV – F06) would lift off from Sriharikota by September-end or the first week of October this year.