Four astronauts shortlisted for Gaganyaan; Chandrayaan 3 gets govt approval says ISRO chief K Sivan

Chandrayaan-3 will consist of lander and rover and will cost approximately Rs 250 crore.

2019 was a glorious year for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and to keep the momentum going, ISRO chief K Sivan addressed the media today. Sivan outlined ISRO's upcoming launches and missions.

2020 will be the year for India's third moon mission, called the Chandrayaan 3.  Additionally, ISRO hopes to take big strides with regards to its first human space mission, Gaganyaan, as well.

Chandrayaan 3

Addressing the media, during the press conference at the ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru, Sivan officially announced that Chandrayaan 3 project was underway after it was accepted by the government. The work on the project is going smoothly said Sivan. He also announced that the orbiter for Chandrayaan 2 will be used for the Chandrayaan 3 mission since it was a success and is functioning smoothly. The orbiter has a mission life of one year, but is supposed to work for the next seven years. The third moon mission will consist of a lander and rover as well.

 Four astronauts shortlisted for Gaganyaan; Chandrayaan 3 gets govt approval says ISRO chief K Sivan

ISRO Chairman K Shivan addressing the press in New Delhi on 28 August 2018. Image courtesy: Department of Space

Sivan also mentioned that the cost of the upcoming Chandrayaan-3 mission along with the lander and the rover would come to approximately Rs 250 crore. The entire cost of the mission, however, could reach up to Rs 365 crores.

Union Minister Jitendra Singh had said on Tuesday, that India will launch Chandrayaan-3 in 2020 and had asserted that the mission will cost less than the previous lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2. This is because of the already present infrastructure from the previous mission. Sivan did mention that they are targetting a 14-16 month timeline to complete the mission but that will depend on how the work progresses.

Gaganyaan updates

The Gaganyaan mission will also be another main focus for the agency this year and work on the first human spaceflight mission will be done in parallel with Chandrayaan 3. Gaganyaan will see India sending human beings into space for the first time for a minimum of seven days in 2022, said Sivan. But test flights are likely to begin by the end of this year if everything goes smoothly. The spacecraft that will carry the astronauts will be developed by ISRO and will consist of a service module and a crew module, collectively known as the Orbital Module.

According to PIB, the process for selection of astronauts for the Gaganyaan mission has been completed and four astronauts have been shortlisted.

After a series of tests conducted both in India and in Russian, four Indians from the Indian Airforce have been selected. The crew that will be launched into space is supposed to consist of three members but ISRO is not taking a risk. Russia will be training the astronauts and sharing their expertise on human space flights. Training is set to begin by the third week of January.

Recently Consulate General of Russian Federation, Consul-General, O Avdeev reiterated their commitment to helping out to when he said,  "There is excellent cooperation between the Russian Space Corporation 'Roscosmos' and the Indian Space Research Organisation for the human space flight program."

Russia had offered its commitment to share its expertise in training future Indian astronauts for faster adaptation to overstress and weightlessness, which is a prerequisite, at the bilateral summit in September at Vladivostok between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Chandrayaan 2

When asked about the reason Chandrayaan 2 failed its landing, Sivan said the reason for the crash was the velocity of the lander was not reduced enough. While the rough breaking phase went as it was supposed to go, the velocity was not reduced in the second phase due to which, in the third phase, the lander went out of control leading to a hard landing.

Singh had also said that it was wrong to term Chandrayaan 2 as a disappointment as it was India's first attempt at landing on the moon and no other country has been able to do it in their first attempt either.

2019 updates

Sivan said that the agency couldn't launch all the satellites last year as planned, but assured of its completion by March 2020. He also said that Chandrayaan 2 was not the reason but the necessary systems needed for the satellites, weren’t available. This year apparently will witness more than 35 launches.

Sivan congratulated the Chennai techie, Shanmuga Subramaniam, who found the crashed lander after failed attempts by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) but said that it was ISRO’s policy to not release the picture of the crashed module. "We know where it crashed and where it is located," he said.

The ISRO said the agency is also working on acquiring land to build a second space port and have selected an area of around 2,300 acres in Thoothukudi, a village in Tamil Nadu. The agency had also added a public viewing gallery in the existing space port in Sriharikota has been upgraded to include a public viewing gallery because the number of people who want to watch the ISRO launches are increasing.

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