**New Delhi: ** India’s first manned space flight – Gaganyaan – is expected to send three persons, including a woman, into the space for seven days and the spacecraft will be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400 km.
Giving details of the programme at a press conference here, Minister of State for Atomic Energy and Space, Jitendra Singh said GSLV Mk III, the three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle, will be used to launch Gaganyaan as it has the necessary payload capability.
He said two unmanned Gaganyaan missions will be undertaken prior to sending humans.
As per ISRO schedule, the first and second unmanned flights would be sent in orbit within 30 and 36 months beginning from August 2018 respectively, while the third and the first human spacecraft would be placed in orbit within 40 months — end of December 2021 or January 2022.
With a mass of seven tonnes, the Gaganyaan system module is named by the ISRO as Orbital Module — a combination of service module and crew module. The crew module in which the three astronauts will leave for space will be made of 3.7 metre diameter and seven metre height.
“The total programme is expected to be completed before 2022, with the first unmanned flight within 30 months. The mission will aim to send a three-person crew to space for a period of seven days. Two men and one woman would be the part of the crew members. The spacecraft will be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400 km. The programme is expected to cost less than Rs 10,000 crore,” Singh said.
The Gaganyaan mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day address. He had said that by 2022 or even before that, some of the young boys and girls will unfurl the Tricolour in space.
Sing said the complex programme will truly be a national endeavour with the participation of ISRO, academia, industry as well as other government and private agencies as stake holders.
“The mission will make India the fourth nation in the world to launch a Human Spaceflight Mission,” Singh said.
To accelerate the programme, ISRO may consider seeking collaborations with space agencies from friendly countries and advanced space programmes, he said.
ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said the project is in progress since 2004 and it would be completed before 75th Independence Day in 2022.
“Under the Gaganyaan schedule, three flights will be sent in orbit. Of the three, there will be two unmanned flights and one human spaceflight. The human spaceflight will take 16 minutes to reach the orbit where it will stay for five to seven days. After de-boost, the Orbital Module will take 36 minutes to splash down in Arabian Sea. The crew module will be recovered within 15-20 days,” Sivan said.
Describing the benefit of the Gaganyaan, Sivan said: “It will enhance science and technology levels of the country, help in national project involving other institutes, academia and industry and improve industrial growth. It will also inspire youth to take challenge in science and technology, additional human resource development and provide way for the international collaboration and policies.”
“It will also help in providing employment to 15,000 people. Of them 861 will be from ISRO, 1,366 from national agencies and 11,050 from industries.”
Sivan said the names of the astronauts will be decided later but he confirmed that they will be selected from Indian Air Force and the ISRO. He said the space suit is ready for the astronauts who will be given over three years of training in India and other foreign countries.
“ISRO will also launch 19 missions before 2022, five in the coming months and five in 2019. These missions include Chandrayaan 2 in January 2019 that will take nearly 40 days to reach the moon.
“Four other satellite programmes such as GSAT-19, GSAT-29, GSAT-11, GSAT-20 are in progress aimed at providing high bandwidth connectivity to rural and remote areas,” Sivan said.