| Pallava Bagla |
INDIA has a new dream, a deep conviction to launch an Indian into space, from Indian soil on an Indian rocket by 2022 which is before the 75th birthday for India’s Independence.
Work has started in right earnest at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) which is expected to deliver this Herculean task in less than USD1.4 billion, possibly the cheapest human space flight ever to be undertaken in the world.
This confidence and promise comes riding on the repeated successes that the Indian space agency has tasted in the past.
Speaking from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi, on August 15, 2018 Prime Minister Narendra Modi a known space buff said, “We have a dream; our scientists have a dream. We have resolved that by 2022, when India celebrates 75 years of Independence or maybe even before that, certainly some of our young boys and girls will unfurl the tricolour in space. With Mangalyaan our scientists have proved their capabilities. I feel proud to announce that very soon as a part of our manned-space mission; we shall be sending an Indian into space. This will be done through the pursuit of our esteemed scientists, and we will proudly find ourselves as the fourth such nation to have launched a successful man space mission.”
When India succeeds it will be the fourth country after Russia, United States of America and China that have independent capabilities to launch humans into space. China joined this select club in 2003 and the first man to be launched in 1961 was Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Neil Armstrong became the first American astronaut to set foot on the moon in 1969.
Unlike other nations India aspires to send a woman as the first astronaut and the human space flight is part of a sustained long term endeavour. Chairman of ISRO Dr K Sivan said, “Not far into the future humanity will definitely colonise space and 1.3 billion India’s just can’t be left behind so as a first step an Indian son or daughter will be launched into a low Earth orbit and then to a space station following which human missions to the Moon and Mars will be considered.” (Pallava Bagla follows the space programme very closely and is author of the book ‘Reaching for the Stars: India’s Journey for Mars and Beyond’ published by Bloomsbury)