The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), has announced via Chairman K. Sivan that it has plans to launch its very own 20 tonne space station, which will accommodate astronauts in space for short periods of time of 15 to 20 days.
The space station will mostly deal with microgravity experiments.
ISRO has no plans to collaborate with any other countries for the project and, by doing so, it will be the fourth nation to operate its own space station after the U.S, Russia and China. The International Space Station itself is presided by a consortium of nations.
However, Anurag Kumar Sinha, Head of the Directorate of Human Space Programme at ISRO said that the Indian station will be available for collaborative research with other countries.
“We are planning to have a separate space station. We will not be a part of the ISS. Our space station is going to be very small. We will be launching a small module and that will be used for carrying out microgravity experiments,” Sivan told the media.
ISRO is ambitious, considering it has its hands quite full: the space agency is focusing on the country’s second mission to the moon, the Chandrayaan-2, which will attempt to land near the South Pole of the Moon (a completely uncharted territory), on July 15th.
In addition to that, ISRO is also working on the Gaganyaan spacecraft, which is intended to be the foundation of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme, set to launch sometime in 2020 for its maiden flight.
“We have to sustain the Gaganyaan programme.” Sivan added “So, subsequently, as a long-term plan, we are planning to have the space station in India. We are going to join the international community in manned missions to the moon, asteroids. We have a clear plan for the space programme.”
“The plan is to select around six candidates who would trained in India, as well as abroad, for becoming a space crew,” Sinha also added “The crew chosen for the maiden space flight would be from test pilots from armed forces and once the human space flight is operational, the recruitment would be thrown open for others too.”
More details about the space station will follow after Gaganyaan’s first human mission which is set for 2022, if all goes according to plan.
For now, the cost of the project has not been yet worked out but India seems determined to compete with the big boys and frankly, we’re curious to see how it will all turn out.
After all, the more research we make and the wider we spread our wings, the closer we get to turning those dreams of deep space exploration into a reality.