Aerospace Daily & Defense Report Mar 31 , 2010 , p. 06
Frank Morring, Jr.
BENGALURU, India — India’s human spaceflight program is funded for a four-year development-and-trial effort that will build and fly an unmanned capsule to test its crew environmental control and life-support system (ECLSS) and launch-escape system, says K. Radhakrisnan, the new chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
If that work goes well, ISRO will seek funding to press on to human tests of the vehicle on the upgraded Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mark III) now in development. Although the 2.5-meter-dia. capsule is being designed for three crewmembers, initial manned flights will carry two astronauts.
“We will first make this unit with an ECLSS system, and will have a few unmanned flights of this module before we actually put a human being inside, initially monitoring the conditions,” Radhakrishnan told Aviation Week March 30 in an interview at his office in this city formerly known as Bangalore.
The first unmanned flight will go on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), followed by a test on the new GSLV-D3 with India’s new indigenous cryogenic upper stage engine.
“That is the one that is now getting funded,” the ISRO chairman said. “Then it will be followed by the others ... we are asking for them in phases.”
The initial four-year effort is funded at $2.8 billion, Radhakrishnan said.
The first GSLV-D3 is scheduled to launch the third week in April with the GSAT-4, a Ka-band testbed that will also carry an experimental GPS-augmentation payload.
The human spacecraft will consist of the capsule, with a 14-deg. cone, and a service module containing five 414-newton engines and a 3-4-kw. power system drawing on two rectangular solar arrays. Much of that technology will be based on systems already developed for India’s growing fleet of communications and Earth-resources satellites, according to T.K. Alex, director of the ISRO Satellite Center, which is doing much of the work.
The capsule will be protected from the heat of re-entry by silicon ceramic tiles already tested on the Space Recovery Experiment in 2007. It will splash down in the ocean for recovery by the Indian navy, Alex says.
Planning is underway for an astronaut training center here, although astronaut selection has not begun. In designing the center and its training regime, ISRO plans to draw on the experience of Indian cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma, a retired Indian Air Force officer who visited the Soviet Salyut 7 space station in a Soyuz capsule in 1984 to become the first Indian space traveler.
The center will include a centrifuge purchased abroad, and a neutral buoyancy tank to train for microgravity operations. India is already at work on a spacesuit for use inside the capsule in case of loss of pressure, but extravehicular activity capability is not currently planned. Alex said most ECLSS technology — gas handling and scrubbing — already exists in India, so developing the system will largely be an engineering task.