Bengaluru: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K. Sivan Wednesday announced plans for training of astronauts for the upcoming Gaganyaan mission, a new spaceport in Tuticorin, and Chandrayaan-3, the country’s third lunar mission.
Sivan was addressing a press meet at the ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru.
The ISRO chief said Chandrayaan-3 has been approved by the government and will be launched in 2021. The mission will include a landing demonstrator, like the Vikram lander of Chandrayaan-2.
Chandrayaan-3 will be an indigenous demonstrator mission. Sivan also said Chandrayaan-3’s rover will have a similar build as Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander but the mission will not include an orbiter.
He added that the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is performing well, despite the lander’s failure, and is expected to be in orbit for another seven years.
The third lunar mission will be succeeded by the Lunar Polar Exploration Mission in 2024 in collaboration with Japan. The rover for the 2024 mission, which shall aim to explore the Moon’s southern pole, will be built by India.
Astronauts for Gaganyaan
Four astronauts have been finalised for the Gaganyaan mission and will start training mid-January, said Sivan. The mission, expected to launch in 2022, will be part of the Indian Spaceflight Programme and will be the country’s first crewed mission to space. It is intended to send humans into orbit for seven days.
Sivan, however, said the project’s systems will have to be tested this year too.
He also confirmed that land acquisition had been initiated for a 2,300-acre area in Tuticorin to build a second spaceport. This port will be slightly smaller than Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, which is ISRO’s only existing spaceport.
Acquisition of land was first announced on 28 November in the Rajya Sabha by Union Minister of State for Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh. The construction for the spaceport is expected to begin by mid-2020.
Tuticorin or Thoothukudi was chosen because of its proximity to the country’s east coast. Rockets can fly in a direct trajectory from here, avoiding Sri Lanka.
The spaceport is expected to help in upcoming launches of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), a smaller launcher than the PSLV.