Sriharikota: “GSLV Mk III is now ready for India’s first manned mission to space and Chandrayan II,” said chairperson, Indian Space Research Organisation, K Sivan, today after the second and final developmental flight of GSLV Mk III rocket successfully put into orbit the heaviest communication satellite launched from the Indian soil from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
Sivan said, “The first operational mission of GSLV Mk III will be none other than the Chandrayaan 2 mission in January 2019. In addition, this vehicle will also carry Indians to space three years from now in December 2021. Kudos to this excellent, reliable and simple launcher of India.”
FIRST INDIAN MANNED MISSION
According to Sivan, before ISRO could launch its first manned mission to space – Gaganyaan – two preliminary unmanned spacecrafts would be launched with the GSLV Mk III.
“The spacecraft would carry the same technology as a manned mission. Only after the tests would GSLV be human-rated,” he said.
The first unmanned mission would be sent in December 2020 and the final manned mission, in December 2021. Sivan confirmed that India’s first manned mission would happen from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
“Suitable modifications to the launch pad would be carried out. The mission would put Indians in space for 5-7 days where many micro-gravity experiments would be carried out. The Gaganyaan mission would pave way for future advanced manned space missions by India, including missions to International Space Station,” he said.
As for selecting crew members, Sivan said the process of defining on how to select the Indians to go to space is under discussion. He said it also involves agencies apart from ISRO.
As for the much-awaited Chandrayaan 2 mission, Sivan said ISRO would launch it as early as January 2020.
Sivan said the Chandrayaan 2 mission has three stages.
“The first is the Orbiter which is in an advanced stage of development. Next is the moon lander which is in the last stages of design process. It’s the fast pace of the second stage that prompted us to make the early announcement. The third is the development of the Moon Rover to explore the lunar surface. Developing the Rover would be a new experience for us,” Sivan explained.
SIGNIFICANCE OF TODAY’S LAUNCH
Sivan said with today’s launch, the GSLV Mk III has completed the mandatory second flight to step into the operational phase from the development phase.
The GSAT 29 carried by GSLV today is part of a series of communication satellites that aims to boost India’s connectivity to obtain the 100 GBPS mark in tune with developed countries. It also carries a geo high-resolution camera capable of zoom levels as close as 55 metres to ground. The GSAT 29, weighing 3,423 kg, is the heaviest satellite to be launched from Sriharikota.
Sivan said, “The next GSLV launch will carry payloads above 4,000 kg. It would be increased in future.”
“The successful launch of the satellite aboard GSLV Mk III is important for the Chandrayaan mission and Gaganyaan mission and proves India’s capability,” said Sivan.
The upcoming Chandrayaan 2 mission would, in fact, be the first operational mission of GSLV Mk III.