ISRO to launch own space station by 2030
ISRO, in one of its most ambitious projects, is planning to launch its own space station by 2030. The announcement was made by ISRO Chairman K Sivan on June 13, 2019. The project will enable ISRO to send more astronauts to space.
The ISRO Chairman clarified that India will not join the International Space Station (ISS) but instead build its own. The full details of the mission will be revealed after the successful completion of India’s first manned space mission – Gaganyaan.
The construction of India’s own space station will be an extension of the Gaganyaan project. "We have to sustain the Gaganyaan programme. So, subsequently, as a long-term plan, we are planning to have the space station in India. We are going to join the international community in manned missions to the moon, asteroids. We have a clear plan for the space programme," revealed Sivan.
The ISRO Chairman added by saying, “We are planning to have a separate space station. We will not be a part of ISS. Our space station is going to be very small. We will be launching a small module and that will be used for carrying out microgravity experiments.” He clarified that ISRO is not thinking of space tourism by planning a space station.
India’s own Space Station: Key Highlights
• The proposal for the space station will first be sent to the central government for approval after India’s first Gaganyaan mission by 2022.
• The execution of the space station programme is expected to take around 5-7 years time. The ISRO Chairman did not speak on the cost of the proposed project.
• The weight of ISRO’s own space station is likely to be 20 tonnes. It will be used to conduct microgravity experiments.
• The initial plan of ISRO is to accommodate astronauts for 15-20 days in space. The space station is expected to be placed at an orbit of 400 km above the earth.
• This mission will enhance India’s space activity as the station would function as an independent facility in space.
• However, India is not the only nation that is aiming to build its own space station, as China also plans to build a space station of its own.
What is a space station?
A space station is like a habitable artificial satellite that is designed to remain in space and is capable of being inhabited by crew members for an extended period of time.
The space station also enables other spacecraft to dock on it for re-stocking of supplies and for the to and fro of astronauts from the earth.
Presently, there is only one fully functional space station in the Earth's lower orbit, the International Space Station.
The International Space Station was built in partnership between the space agencies of the United States (NASA), European countries (ESA), Japan (JAXA), Canada (CSA) and Russia (Roscosmos).
The ISS is the world's largest international cooperative programme in science and technology. It is also the largest human-made body in low Earth orbit and can often be seen with the naked eye from Earth.
The space station’s first component was launched into space in 1998 and the first long-term crew members arrived on it on November 2000, and since then, it has been inhabited continuously.
The space station comprises pressurised habitation modules, structural trusses, solar arrays, radiators, docking ports, experiment bays and robotic arms. The ISS components were launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets and American Space Shuttles.
It serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and other fields.
The space station orbits the Earth in roughly 92 minutes and completes 15.5 orbits per day. The station is expected to operate until 2030.
ISRO projects before space station programme
ISRO would first be launching its second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2 on July 15. ISRO aims to land the mission near the south pole of the moon, where no other nation has attempted to land before.
It would be followed by a mission to the Sun- Aditya-L1 in the first half of 2020. The Aditya L1 mission will study the corona of the Sun, which is the outermost part of its atmosphere. According to scientists, the corona has a major impact on climate change.
ISRO is also planning an interplanetary mission to Venus, which is expected to be launched in the next 2-3 years. The mission will be a collaboration between India and France.
ISRO Chairman K Sivan described Venus as a burning body with very high temperature. He elaborated by saying that most missions to Venus have failed and ISRO wants to succeed and study the atmospheric composition of the planet.
In between, India would also be launching its first manned mission to space- Gaganyaan.