ISRO congratulates NASA, SpaceX on a job well done on the 'historic' launch of US astronauts to ISS

This launch marked the first time a privately built and owned spacecraft carried NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

One day after the launch of the NASA-SpaceX joint human space flight, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) tweeted out their congratulations to the American space agency. The Indian space agency called the launch 'historic' said 'Good job'.

 ISRO congratulates NASA, SpaceX on a job well done on the historic launch of US astronauts to ISS

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA/Flickr

On Sunday, 31 May, the United States of American launched its astronauts for the first time in nine years since the Space Shuttle Program was cancelled. American private aerospace company SpaceX developed a rocket - Falcon 9 and a crew capsule - Crew Dragon that could transport the two astronauts to the International Space Station. This was a test mission and if they succeed, NASA will certify SpaceX to conduct more of these missions in the future.

Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley reached the ISS and Crew Dragon docked automatically on Monday, 10:32 pm IST almost 23 hours after their lift-off. They were welcomed aboard the ISS by US astronaut Chris Cassidy, and Russian cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

This launch marked the first US public-private partnership where a privately built and owned spacecraft carried NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. This was possible due to the Commerical Crew Program that began in 2010.

ISRO has monopolised the space sector in India and is now starting to open up to the possibility of having private companies contribute to their space missions. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a recent announcement said that ISRO will "provide a level playing field for private companies in satellites, launches and space-based services," reports Hindustan Times.

Sitharaman said, "ISRO has brought the country many laurels; however, today the private sector is also doing a lot of work in the space arena and a lot of individuals and start-ups have spent a lot of time developing space-related technology but unfortunately due to Indian regulations, they are unable to use ISRO’s available facilities for even testing their products."

ISRO will provide predictable policy and regulatory environment to private players. They will also be allowed to use ISRO facilities and other relevant assets to improve their capacities. Future projects for planetary exploration and outer space travel would be open for the private sector and liberal geospatial data policy will provide remote sensing data to tech-entrepreneurs.

India is also preparing to launch humans to space in its first manned mission "Gaganyaan". The Rs 10,000-crore ambitious project is expected to be launched in 2022, the year of the 75th anniversary of India's Independence but the first uncrewed mission was supposed to take place as early as the end of this year. However, the Coronavirus pandemic might have pushed back the date. Four Indian Air Force fighter pilots have begun training for the mission with the Russian space agency in Moscow. The mission will put three people into space for seven days and the spacecraft will be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400 kilometres.

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