Bengaluru: Less than a month after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement on 'Gaganyaan,' the manned space flight programme, India and France on Thursday announced the formation of a working group to combine their expertise for fruition of the project and for a variety of experiments by a three-member crew during the journey through outer space.
India plans to send three humans to space before 2022. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)'s mission is significant as it would catapult the country into an exclusive league of four nations including Russia, the United States and China to launch a manned space flight. The crew would conduct micro-gravity experiments during the flight.
As part of the Indo-French collaboration, ISRO and CNES, the French space agency, would combine their expertise in several fields including space medicine, astronaut health monitoring, life support, protection from radiation and personal hygiene systems, as part of the collaboration. Engineering teams have commenced discussions and it is envisioned that infrastructure such as CADMOS centre for development of microgravity applications and space operations or the MEDES space clinic would be used for training of future Indian astronauts, as well as exchange of specialist personnel, according to Mr Jean-Yves Le Gall, President, CNES.
"France has a long heritage of the human space programme. Today we have the expertise including training the crew so we will discuss specifics of an umbrella agreement signed earlier. CNES is especially proud to be working on this endeavour alongside ISRO to share the experience it has acquired from the first French human spaceflights to Thomas Pesquet's Proxima mission, and to hone our own expertise by learning from ISRO's innovative developments in the field of crew transport," while Dr K Sivan, Chairman, ISRO, remarked "France is our best friend, so we will seek their expertise," while speaking to the media on the sidelines of the inaugural of sixth edition of Bengaluru Space Expo today.
The initial spadework for today's announcement on Indo-French collaboration commenced with India and France released a joint vision statement of space cooperation during the visit of President Emmanuel Macron's visit to New Delhi in March this year. Under the vision statement, it was agreed that ISRO and CNES would jointly develop capabilities and critical technologies, addressing radiation shielding solutions, personal hygiene and waste management system and design of man-in-loop simulators for human space flight as well as bioastronautics. The Indo-French pace cooperation encompasses areas of climate monitoring, with a fleet of satellites devoted to research and operational applications, innovation through a joint technical group tasked with inventing launch vehicles of the future. The two space agencies also plan to work on Mars, Venus and asteroids.
Earlier, addressing the inaugural session, Mr Sivan said ISRO plans to roll out smaller rockets for launch of satellites weighing 500 to 700 KG into orbits 500 KM from the earth "The demand for small satellites is growing. Small satellites are going to be used for communication purposes in an enormous way. To catch up with the small satellites market, ISRO is in the process of developing a small satellite launcher," he said adding that the private sector would have a major role in manufacture of these satellites and rockets.