ISRO's stand on peaceful application of space technologies
Dr P S Goel, member, Space Commission, and director,
ISRO Satellite Centre, says: "Our focus is on the
final application of the technology."
was Lieutenant Colonel Lang Yiwei who piloted the Chinese
spacecraft Shenzhou 5 and completed the space mission
successfully. Yiwei's 14 orbits around the earth is
estimated to have cost China around $2.3 billion. With
this mission China became the first Asian nation and
the third in the world to send a human in its own spacecraft.
the inventor of black powder rocket, became the first
nation after four decades to send its citizen in space
in its own vehicle. Prior to the manned mission, China
sent four unmanned Sehnzhous to perfect its technology.
Following the Columbia space shuttle tragedy, the US
is forced to go slow on manned space flights.
are conflicting views about the Chinese achievement.
A single swallow does not make a summer, and one manned
space flight will not change the Chinese position in
the global commercial space launch industry. Today the
US, Russia and Europe equally share the entire global
satellite launch pie.
the other hand, the US-based Futron Corporation, in
its latest report, says sending a human to the space
is still considered to be the pinnacle of scientific
and technological achievement. The Shenzhou 5 mission
is expected to translate into higher international investment
into China apart from gaining respect from its peers
across the globe and stoking domestic pride and inspiration.
was always ahead of India in space technology. The Chinese
launched its first satellite in 1970 with its own launch
vehicle, Long March 1, modifying its intercontinental
ballistic missile. Even in the seventies, the country
was planning a human space mission under the project
1974, China started its remote sensing satellite programme
and launched Fanhui Shei Weixing-1 (FSW-1) a satellite
that used a re-entry film capsule. Later, the country
decided to focus on the launch industry and developed
12 launch vehicle variants and also built three launch
sites for different orbits.
1981 it launched multiple satellites using a single
rocket. Between 1985 and 2000 the country conducted
18 commercial launches at a cost that is significantly
lower than the US and Russia. In 1984 Ronald Reagan,
the then US president, offered to fly a Chinese astronaut
in Space Shuttle. However, the Chinese didn't show interest
in that offer.
to Futron, in 1992 China decided to pursue the human
space flight seriously and the three-phased project
was coded as Project 921. The first phase being human
space mission, second a space station and third being
fielding of reusable launch vehicle.
country got Russian assistance in good measure. In fact
Shenzhou is similar to the time-tested Russian spacecraft
Soyuz. Two Chinese astronauts were trained in Russia
who in turn trained others in China. In 1999 the first
unmanned Shenzhou was carried by Long March 2F. This
was followed by three more missions in January
2001, March 2002 and December 2002.
is also in the process of developing a new launch vehicle
Long March 5 and a small vehicle called
Kaitouzhe. Apart from its own manned space station,
China nurtures an ambition of having its own lunar base.
India it is the moon
the other hand India's first satellite launch vehicle
(SLV-3), similar to the American Scout rocket, was launched
in 1979. It was followed by the advanced satellite launch
vehicle (ASLV) in 1987. In 1993 the present workhorse
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) came in and was
followed by Geo Stationary Launch Vehicle (GSLV) in
2001. India was on and off the US technology embargo
has started carrying third-party satellites for a fee
and is slowly making its presence felt in the global
launch market. It was in 1984 that Rakesh Sharma, then
a Squadron Leader in the Indian Air Force, got a lift
in the Russian Soyuz T-11.
to Nair, ISRO is perfecting its instrumentation and
is focusing on its Rs 380-crore unmanned mission to
moon, Chandrayaan-1. "Our target is to complete
the moon mission in five years' time," says Nair.
Like the human space mission, a successful lunar mission
is also cited as a proof of technological prowess.
latest Chinese mission has not put any pressure on us,"
says Dr Goel. According to him ISRO is clear on its
plans and its programmes are not dependent on what others
the first step towards the human space mission for ISRO
is the development of reusable capsule. According to
Dr B N Suresh, director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre
(VSSC), the capsule will be sent up in PSLV-C7 sometime
in 2005. The capsule was to carry out some micro-gravity
experiment in the orbit, which will have applications
in natural science and pharmaceuticals.
there any chance of ISRO putting a living being, say
a dog, inside the capsule? Says R V Perumal, associate
projects director, VSSC: "Putting any kind of life
form in a spacecraft involves intricate technology and
this will take some more years."
about the trends in the satellite industry Dr Goel says:
"Big satellites are now passé. Medium-sized
satellites are more in demand."
in one of its report, said the trend now is in favour
of Ku-band transponders over C-band owing to the growth
in data and video applications. According to the US
company, there is a moderation in the satellite size.
In 2000-01 the average transponders in a geosynchronous
orbit satellite was 39.4 and it went up to just 40.5
in 2002-03. Earlier the average increase was around
expects the total number of satellite launches (commercial
and non-commercial put together) to go up this fiscal.
"The main contributor for this increase will be
the US defence. On the other hand the launch cost has
come down by 40 per cent in the last few years, mainly
due to the Russians."