Gaganyaan is just the beginning! India plans to have sustained human presence in space

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human presence in space and is coming out with a policy framework and a long-term roadmap.

The Department of Space (DoS) has envisaged a national effort to meet the goal of a successful demonstration of human spaceflight capability and to achieve the vision of sustained human presence in space.

India’s maiden human spaceflight module ‘Gaganyaan’ will be launched after the second unmanned mission planned in 2022-23, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said last week.

In her Budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the first unmanned launch is slated for December this year.

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The DoS has now put up for public consultation on the website of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which comes under the former, the draft “Humans in Space Policy for India — 2021” and guidelines and procedures for its implementation.

DoS believes that given the collaborative nature of human spaceflight due to its multi-disciplinary nature, it is essential to have a policy framework, which not only fosters partnerships but also addresses proliferation concerns and compliance to existing policies, laws and treaties.

The human-spaceflight programme needs to be sustained over longer periods to deliver tangible benefits, – according to the draft.

Hence, it is essential that the policy enables sustained presence in low earth orbit and beyond through reliable, robust, safe and affordable means by undertaking appropriate capacity-building measures like collaborations, infrastructure development, facilities modernisation, technology development and human resource development.

This would also encourage new industries, create high technology jobs, enable socio-economic growth and further enhance India’s stature and role in space, it was noted.

“The Humans in Space Policy aims for sustained human presence in space as an instrument for development, innovation and foster collaborations in alignment with national interests”, the draft said.

Technological elements such as the development of human-rated launch vehicle, environmental control and life support system, crew escape system, deceleration system, crew selection and training and development of human-centric products shall be undertaken by the DoS, utilising the expertise of ISRO, national research institutions, academia, industry and others.

A long-term road map for sustained human presence in low earth orbit (LEO) and undertaking exploration missions beyond it would be defined. “DoS/ISRO shall encourage start-ups and industries through a suitable mechanism.

The mechanism shall be established to explore spinoff opportunities and their development for societal benefits”, according to the draft.

DoS/ISRO shall establish a comprehensive criterion for screening and selection of crew members. For initial missions, pilots from Indian Armed forces will be inducted as crew members, it was stated.

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