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The Indian space agency ISRO is reportedly putting together a proposal that could result a manned spacecraft launch by early next decade and potentially a manned mission to the Moon by the end of the next decade. Indian publications reported this week that ISRO plans to unveil the human spaceflight program proposal next week. That plan calls for the development of a two-person capsule that could be launched on the country’s GSLV launch vehicle, with the first manned flight planned for 2014. Those reports indicated the ISRO plan would also feature manned missions to the Moon by 2020, but few details about that phase of the effort were disclosed. India is also developing technology for a recoverable spacecraft that will be tested on a spacecraft scheduled for launch early next year. The total cost of the manned orbital program, which has yet to be approved by the Indian government, is estimated to be approximately $2-3 billion.

 The ambitions mark a step change for India, which has shied away from putting humans into space as the costs have been considered prohibitive. However, a booming economy and an acknowledgement that India appeared to be losing ground to its bigger neighbour China, which in 2003 sent an astronaut into space, has spurred scientists to think the unthinkable.

It was the only way forward for the Indian space programme to keep pace with tomorrow’s space technology.

On asking how realistic are the plans for ISRO to send a person to space by 2014 and to have a person walk on the moon by 2020 , ISRO Chairman, G Madhavan Nair said “if we have to have a manned mission we have to develop a host of new technologies. There has to be the human habitat to be prepared which can withstand the environments of space.”

He countinues “We have to set up new laboratories and new initiatives but these development cycles can be managed. Our estimate shows it will take some seven to eight years before we can have the first manned orbital mission.”

This is to be noted that ISRO is already running a programme called “Chandrayan” but according to Mr. Nair “Chandrayan is only an instrumental spacecraft which is being sent to explore the lunar surface”. It can take the images in visible band.

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