Plan panel okays ISRO manned space flight

The Planning Commission has shown the green light to the Rs 12,400-crore manned space mission of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scheduled for launch by 2015.

"We had a good meeting. The general inference is that ISRO has done an expert job and it needs to be supported. The Planning Commission will support it," said Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia who had a two-hour meeting last Friday with top ISRO scientists and officials of the Department of Space.

Ahluwalia said the Human Space Flight project would be executed in two phases. In the first phase, an unmanned flight would be launched in 2013-14 and the second stage in 2014-15 would be a two-man mission.

K Radhakrishnan, Space Commission member and Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, said ISRO wanted to secure formal approval of the plan panel for the project to take off. The Rs 12,400-crore expenditure would include setting up long-term facilities and inputs needed for the space vehicle and its entire get-up.

"We intend to put two persons in the vehicle and launch them into space for seven days in an orbit of 275 km," Radhakrishnan said. Though he did not elaborate, it is learnt that the manned mission would use the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

Although ISRO would be the lead agency in executing the project, Radhakrishnan said other agencies were also expected to lend support.

India plans a manned mission to moon by 2020.

Professor Yash Pal, who served as the first Director of the Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad from 1973 to 1981, said Indians are already in space and have the capability to deliver on a manned space flight. "We are already in space. We are better placed than what the Americans did earlier." Yash Pal also attended the meeting last Friday.

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