Bengaluru: On Saturday, the first Indian to journey into outer space, Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma (Retd), was among the Who's Who of Indian science, engineering and the armed forces, to get a first-hand account of the feverish activities underway at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to accomplish an outing into space by an Indian crew before December 2021. The Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bengaluru is all set to commence selection and training of crew members soon.
"Today was the first and introductory meeting of the National Advisory Council (the highest body to review 'Gaganyaan' programme). We plan to meet again after three months, instead of six months as originally planned, as we must be ready for the crew's flight into space before 2022," Dr K Sivan, Chairman, ISRO, told Deccan Chronicle at the end of the meeting.
Members of the advisory council witnessed a presentation on the status of the Rs 10,000 crore programme by Dr Unnikrishnan Nair, Director, Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC), ISRO. He explained about collaborations with national laboratories, public sector units, and the armed forces, in particular the Indian Air Force (IAF). Several critical aspects of 'Gaganyaan' such as the life support systems and crew selection and training were discussed by the experts. They spoke of the need for setting priorities for various laboratories, R&D facilities, and the industries to accomplish the programme on schedule.
Dr Sivan said post the MoU with the IAF, the Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) would invite applications from prospective crew members and start the process of selection and training shortly.
Prof K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to Government of India, Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Chairman, DRDO, Dr Shekhar C Mande, Director General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Prof Anurag Kumar, Director, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Mr R Madhavan, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Space), Rear Admiral D S Gujarl, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff, Indian Navy, Inspector General KR Suresh TM, Deputy Director General (Operations and Coastal Security) Indian Coast Guard, and Dr K Kasturirangan, former chairman, ISRO, were the other members of the advisory council who participated in the meeting in Bengaluru today.
Chandrayaan to be launched on July 15
India's second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-II, will be launched on July 15 bya GSLV-MkIII rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota Range. A combo of an orbiter, a lander named 'Vikram (after the late Dr Vikram Sarabhai), and a rover christened 'Pragyan', it will cruise through outer space for two months before entering into an orbit around the earth's nearest astral neighbour. The lander-rover will touch down on the Moon, close to the South Pole, in the first week of September to probe the lunar surface as well as carryout experiments. In all, 13 instruments (eight on the orbiter, three on the lander, and two on the rover) along with one from NASA (a laser retro-reflector array or LRA) will be carried onboard Chandrayaan-II, according to sources in ISRO.