The plan to put an Indian into space, on its own, for the first time by 2022 will create as many as 15,000 jobs, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K. Sivan said on Wednesday.
“We estimate that the human space mission will generate about 15,000 jobs over the next few years,” Sivan told IANS here.
The ISRO wants to take up the manned spaceflight in collaboration with multiple state-run scientific institutions, academia, industry and start-ups.
The space agency aims to take Indian astronauts into space to a height of 350-400 km above the earth and orbit around the planet for at least a week by 2022. The astronauts will also be conducting experiments in space, details of which are yet to be decided by ISRO.
“The human spaceflight will be a national project and not just ISRO’s, as we will be collaborating with several institutions, academia and the industry,” Sivan told reporters here.
Rakesh Sharma, a former Indian Air Force pilot, is the only Indian citizen to travel into space so far. He was part of the crew on Soyuz T-11 launched on April 2, 1984 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, a part of the then Soviet Union.
The ISRO will be working with the Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Bengaluru for training the crew and the Indian Air Force, which will select the crew, as well as with the private sector, which will be involved in research and development, Sivan said.
The ISRO Chairman addressed the press conference in this tech hub hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in his Independence Day address in New Delhi the country’s plan to put an Indian into space by 2022 on its own.
Admitting that the space agency was “surprised” by the Prime Minister’s human space mission announcement, Sivan said the technological preparations for the project were on track since 2004.
“The announcement came to us as a surprise. We were not expecting it,” Sivan said, adding that ISRO, however, has been developing several critical technologies required for the mission like the crew module and the crew escape system.
“It is not an unrealistic schedule. We are confident of achieving it even before 2022,” Sivan said.
The opportunity of exploring space will enhance the country’s science and technological capabilities, while inspiring the youth, he added.
India’s attempt to reach space by 2022 is about six decades after a Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to journey into outer space and orbit the earth in 1961.
The US, Russia and China are the only three nations to have launched manned space flights.
The ISRO is yet to finalise the exact timeline of tests before a manned mission can take off, as it plans to have two unmanned test flights onboard a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk 3.
In the run-up to the first manned mission, said to be the largest project undertaken by the Indian space agency, the ISRO will conduct the next unmanned test flight by 2020.
“There will be two unmanned flights before the manned mission, for which the astronaut suit is also being developed,” said Sivan.
The ambitious human space mission is expected to cost about Rs 10,000 crore, in addition to the already spent Rs 300-crore in developing the technologies for the mission, like the crew module.