jump to navigation

India’s Possible First Manned Mission – Are we ready yet? November 7, 2006

Posted by PagMax in manned flight, space.

There are some who question the relevance of space activities in a developing nation. To us, there is no ambiguity of purpose. We do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the exploration of the moon or the planets or manned space-flight. But we are convinced that if we are to play a meaningful role nationally, and in the community of nations, we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society.

As a kid, I was never too excited about this vision, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai has laid for space future of India.

TODAY, for the first time (as far as I can tell)   ISRO has (arguably) contradicted this idea and has officially spoken positively about FIRST INDIAN MANNED MISSION TO SPACE.
Though they did not speak much, I am  excited!! Indian going up there from Indian Soil…!!
(Remember only Indian so far who has been to space is Sqdrn Leader. Rakesh Sharma in 1984. But he piggybacked himself on a Russian (Then Soviet Union) spacecraft).

If this happens exactly the way we plan, pretty soon they would be looking for an Astronaut Candidate. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT..!!!
I wonder who that fortunate and brave person would be. I grew up all my life dreaming to be one. Although, its highly unlikely that this person would NOT be from Air-force.
Alan Shepered,  Yuri Gagarin, and Yang Liwei (First ones from USA, Russia and China) all had Flying background through either Air-force or Navy. Its certainly a plus if you want to be an astronaut anytime.

By IAF, (where I does not stand for Israel) I am too old to fly a air-force plane now and pretty soon I will be too old even to enter the force by any means.
Summarizing, its not going to ME.  (As if..!!)

So who is left now?
Well let us see.. lot depends on what time frame we are looking at..here is what ISRO has to say..

The preliminary estimated cost for the Manned Space Mission is Rs.10,000 crore spread over a period of 8 years.

8 years…, I say too optimistic. Lets make it 16. From past missions around the world, my guess is he (yes HE, as much as we respect the power and abilities of a woman, we are not sending a girl up there on our first mission), would be in his mid-late thirties during the launch. So my guess is this guy is now about 19-20. So friends! if you are in your late teens or early twenties, I will say send that application to IAF. (You have be less than 22 to be able to fly and I  already tried to change that age-limit, did not work. So do not waste your time on that).
I cannot intelligently comment on the number “Rs.10,000 crore” as cost estimate, but in a country like India, where more than 15 farmer kill themselves everyday because they do not have enough food, its not really going to be easy for everyone to appreciate that kind of budget. Now its certainly debatable. If we pull this off, we would make LOT LOT LOT of money directly or indirectly. What if we do not..!!

Are we really ready for this..?? Is this an investment well worth? Would the pride of possibly being 4th nation to send a man to space would resolve any of our existing problems? Ironically, growing up with lunar landing pictures on my bedroom walls and dreaming one day we would Indian flag up there, today I must say I am neutral on this one..!!

Just a note: I am a doctoral student in aerospace engineering and I try my best to keep myself updated with all the recent  and past developments in this field. So dont misinterpret my neutral stand as lack of my knowledge or lack of passion toward space development. If I get into that, it would be reeeally a long post and I just want to keep arguments on pros and cons only for comments. I am hoping to have some decent and informative discussion on both the aspects of this development.

Update: Hindustan Times claims, that ISRO has claimed to send an Indian to Moon by 2020. I did not see this declaration on ISRO’s website.  If it is true, thats a ridiculous claim.  NASA is planning to send a man up there by 2020! Do I need to say more why its a ridiculous claim…!!

UPDATE 2: Article on New Scientist Space on this topic. Various interesting viewpoints from experts around the world discussed.