Author Topic: Indian Human Spaceflight Program  (Read 129479 times)

Offline sanman

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #300 on: 03/03/2017 12:52 AM »
All the new flurry of activity around crewed missions in the US may be attracting attention in India as well.
The LVM3, which Dr Kasturirangan played a key role in pushing for, will soon be coming online and its specs obviously offer more potential for HSF purposes. Given that Indian govt approval for HSF is contingent on budgetary considerations, perhaps elder guides like Dr Kasturirangan are now advocating foreign partnerships as a way to overcome budgetary hurdles. More active pursuit of HSF missions would offer more scope for making use of LVM3 (dare we even think of an LVM4 with the extra pair of boosters?)


I'm not sure whom India could go for partnership with, if the main goal is cost-sharing. Perhaps Japan, or even SouthKorea? They'd certainly bring great technology to the table, too. I really have to admire the incredibly lightweight construction of Japanese launch vehicles, even if they are very expensive. India could certainly learn from the Japanese on how to make the most of composites for mass savings. But the Japanese would never discard H2A, especially after all they've invested in it.


What India needs is someone with money, but who doesn't have a launch platform of their own they're already invested in. I think private space tourism best fits that description. The question is where to get the money to kickstart the upfront development required for HSF and space tourism?


I dunno - maybe Antrix or some similar construct should consider a bond offering to raise money for this. As a public sector unit (PSU), Antrix is currently wholly owned by the govt of India and is administered by the Dept of Space. Given the unique risks of HSF, maybe it calls for the creation of a separate entity parallel to Antrix, in order to isolate/compartmentalize any potential liability risks related to HSF. That new entity could then raise external capital through bond offerings, which would be used to fund the development of HSF, with an eye to providing returns via Space Tourism revenues.


India already has the skilled manpower and technical base, the infrastructure base, and certain cost advantages.
There is a decades-old heritage of pursuit of space technology.
There is a proven track record of monetizing space capabilities and obtaining Return on Investment.
What India really needs is the upfront capital to jumpstart HSF and accelerate development in this direction, so that it won't be completely left behind in the space race.



Offline baldusi

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #301 on: 03/03/2017 11:42 AM »
The next generation LV will take the boosters and upper stage of the LVM3 and replace the core with an SCE-200 powered kerolox stage. That should give them plenty of performance for a crewed capsule.
What I would guess that they meant for cooperation is more like ISS and Chinese space station docking rights, telemetry and control, ECLSS, etc.

Offline sanman

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #302 on: 03/03/2017 04:51 PM »
What about Russia? India's space program owes a lot to Russian technology, and both countries have collaborated on various space-related projects before. Mir is no longer operational, but in the past the Russians have put forth ideas for a successor to Mir which has never materialized. The only potential complication I could see from such collaboration is in potentially running afoul of US sanctions laws - but who's to say those issues might not one day similarly apply to any collaboration with China/Tiangong?

Going back to Japan again - perhaps it's wrongheaded to think of one launch platform winning out over another, since half the launches could be done by JAXA and the other half by ISRO.

While not having a particularly large purse, another country with a good scientific/technical base is Israel. There could be a lot of natural complementarity between the 2 countries for space undertakings. Israel doesn't have a medium/heavy lift launch vehicle, while India does. Israel has a lot of expertise across the technology spectrum which could easily augment Indian technology.

I just don't see a whole lot to do for HSF in LEO which others haven't already done before - should India really be recapitulating the same space station-related HSF research of the past? How much osteoporosis or muscle atrophy do you need to measure? Why can't this just be done aboard a large crewed vehicle instead of having to dock with somebody's space station? What's needed is a poor man's space station like SpaceX's DragonLab, but maybe a little bigger.

Ultimately, it would be better to minimize the learning time in LEO, in order to move towards the Moon.
« Last Edit: 03/03/2017 05:34 PM by sanman »

Offline sanman

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #303 on: 03/04/2017 06:07 AM »
Another idea occurred to me - India has in the past leased nuclear submarines from Moscow for the purpose of gaining close experience in nuclear submarine operations.

http://thediplomat.com/2016/10/a-second-russian-nuclear-attack-submarine-for-india/

Perhaps something similar could be done by India in regards to a Russian-made space station. India could lease the space station for some limited period and send up its own flights to dock with it, and then perhaps eventually transfer it back to Russian hands. This might allow India to gain vital experience as well as carry out medical & other data-gathering vital for HSF and longterm space operations, while limiting the cost burden and the commitment. Such an arrangement might also allow India to maintain a better timetable in its HSF progress, without lagging as far behind as it otherwise might.

« Last Edit: 03/04/2017 06:08 AM by sanman »

Offline sanman

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #304 on: 04/18/2017 11:12 PM »
10 years after key scientists gave their blessings for it, the human spaceflight program still hasn't yet gotten approval from the cabinet:

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/science/a-decade-on-human-space-flight-not-in-priority-list-of-india/articleshow/58241073.cms

(prods govt)

Offline sanman

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #305 on: 05/02/2017 02:20 AM »
India's Dept of Space has given funding approval for ISRO to carry out a satellite rendezvous-&-docking mission, even possibly carrying out material transfer between the 2 craft, to demonstrate a potential refueling capability:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/now-india-eyes-technology-to-put-people-in-space/articleshow/58467493.cms


Quote
BENGALURU: Isro's plan to develop technology that will allow two space vehicles to attach in orbit and also transfer material between them described in technical terms as spacecraft docking and berthing has been cleared by the department of space with a grant of Rs 10 crore. The technology will eventually allow Isro to transfer humans in space, but the immediate goal is to enable the refuelling of spacecraft to give them a longer life and transfer other crucial systems to spacecraft in orbit.

Senior scientist T K Anuradha had confirmed to TOI that experiments to this end were under way at the Isro Space Application Centre (Isac), Bengaluru, in 2016. Isro has already completed some ground simulations. A senior scientist said, "The plan is to launch two small spacecraft to test the technology in space. India operates a huge constellation of satellites and this technology will allow Isro to enhance their lives by refuelling them. It'll also reduce space debris."

The scientist added, "In most cases, the payloads on our satellites are still functioning when the satellite is decommissioned because it has expended its fuel. In future, we could enhance the life of satellites multiple times."

India is yet to become a member of the International Space Station, and human space programme is not in its immediate plans, but the eventual aim of the docking system is to send and bring back people from space. Former Isro chairman U R Rao, the chairman of Isro advisory committee, said, "It (the technology) could be used to transport people to space stations bring back old people and put in newer ones or even send people in to replace equipment on spacecraft and so on."

Isro has to overcome many challenges before it can attempt the transfer of people in space. For one, Isro must be equipped with capabilities that allow two spacecraft to find each other and remain in the same orbit. Rao said docking has to be automatic and many functions have to be executed by robots. There's also the challenge of managing the speeds of spacecraft when they near each other and to then dock safely.

Isro, according to documents in TOI's possession, is also building a special bus and payload module that will allow replacement of equipment on satellites in space.



« Last Edit: 05/02/2017 02:24 AM by sanman »

Offline sanman

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #306 on: 06/04/2017 01:10 AM »

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/isro-to-launch-its-heaviest-rocket-gslv-mk-iii-that-could-ferry-indians-into-space-10-facts-1707599


Some points made in relation to ISRO's GSLV Mk III rocket and possible human spaceflight:

Quote
ISRO has already developed critical technologies toward its astronaut program: the space suit is ready, a crew module was tested in 2014 and the drawings on how to ferry a crew of two to three astronauts into space from India are ready.

After government clearance, it would still take ISRO seven years of hard work to be able to ferry Indian into space. Every such launch will cost Rs. 300 crore.

After six successful attempts, the rocket will be human rated.

This is definitely less than 15 years which is how long it took ISRO to make this beast.

ISRO suggests that the first person to fly into space from India be a woman.

The last Indian to fly into space was Squadron leader Rakesh Sharma. He went into space as part of a joint programme by ISRO and the Soviet Intercosmos space programme way back in 1984. He had spent eight days in space.

Former Chairman of ISRO Dr K Kasturirangan has said: "the success of GSLV Mk III will usher a new era of our self- reliance." 

This rocket has impressive vital stats too. At 43 meters, it is higher than a 13 storied building.

The GSLV MK III can carry six-10 tons of payload into low earth orbits.

With this launch, ISRO also enters the heavyweight club of world rockets. At 640 tons, its heaviest monster weighs as much as five fully loaded Jumbo Jets.

Offline vineethgk

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #307 on: 06/04/2017 03:26 AM »
Another news report from last year quoted S Somanath as putting a figure of INR 40,000 crore that the govt needs to approve for the agency to formally start a full-fledged human spaceflight programme. At current exchange rates, it translates to over USD 6 billion, nearly three times the yearly budget of ISRO. It remains to be seen if the govt would be ready to make financial commitments on that scale for a programme with dubious near term benefits, at least under the current state of the economy.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2017 03:27 AM by vineethgk »

Offline sanman

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #308 on: 06/06/2017 04:10 AM »
Another news report from last year quoted S Somanath as putting a figure of INR 40,000 crore that the govt needs to approve for the agency to formally start a full-fledged human spaceflight programme. At current exchange rates, it translates to over USD 6 billion, nearly three times the yearly budget of ISRO. It remains to be seen if the govt would be ready to make financial commitments on that scale for a programme with dubious near term benefits, at least under the current state of the economy.

But perhaps "formally" is the key word here. It looks like ISRO will continue to develop all the key elements required for a human space flight program, until they're just a screw-turn away. At that point it will be a fait d'accompli, no longer requiring as steep a price tag, and might be easier to pitch to the public. Personally, I don't feel public opinion is the real obstacle - it's mainly govt fears of partisan political sniping.

Offline vineethgk

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #309 on: 06/06/2017 04:21 PM »
Another news report from last year quoted S Somanath as putting a figure of INR 40,000 crore that the govt needs to approve for the agency to formally start a full-fledged human spaceflight programme. At current exchange rates, it translates to over USD 6 billion, nearly three times the yearly budget of ISRO. It remains to be seen if the govt would be ready to make financial commitments on that scale for a programme with dubious near term benefits, at least under the current state of the economy.

But perhaps "formally" is the key word here. It looks like ISRO will continue to develop all the key elements required for a human space flight program, until they're just a screw-turn away. At that point it will be a fait d'accompli, no longer requiring as steep a price tag, and might be easier to pitch to the public. Personally, I don't feel public opinion is the real obstacle - it's mainly govt fears of partisan political sniping.
I kept similar thoughts too until some time back, that rather than seeking a grand funding commitment in one go ISRO could somehow split the HSF programme into small, manageable milestones that they could progressively accomplish under the radar. But it would seem that isn't workable beyond a limit. There appears to be a point beyond which the agency would require an explicit commitment from the government, and a large allocation of funds, to complete the remaining work. Atleast this has been the hint from senior ISRO leadership on the question in many recent interviews. Perhaps there are valid reasons for that.

The bottleneck as stated before is the scale of funding that is required, and the lack of any apparent near-term benefits other than a show-off of sorts. The stiff opposition to such a move may not be just from the traditional quarters - champions of poverty-vs-space 'welfare politics', but even from the Finance ministry as they grapple with a lower-than-expected economic growth, funding crunches and a commitment to keep fiscal deficit within certain limits. Of course there are undeniable long term benefits and even the allocation of this 40,000 crores would be spread over many fiscals, but whether that still justify this scale of commitment now (by comparison MOM reportedly cost only 450 crores) would be a valid question in the eyes of many.

The Chinese had it easy in many ways due to their different political environment and the support from a rapid economic growth, but for now India has neither of these luxuries to count on. Govt would be a bit wary, and it has good reasons to be. But then there is a chance that with the runaway success of GSLV-III D1, they *might* risk the plunge. Fingers crossed.

Offline sanman

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #310 on: 06/06/2017 07:54 PM »
It would have to wait until after the 2019 elections, at a minimum.

EDIT:
Also, it's not clear what the breakdown on that pricetag is - what exactly would the Rs.40,000 Crores go into?
What scope is there for cutting down this amount? What might be pared off or deferred, to lower the pricetag?
Might there perhaps be a way to split the Human Spaceflight Program into major sections which could be separately approved, or tiered in some way? Since the main hurdles are political, I think some creative accounting may be required here.
« Last Edit: 06/08/2017 06:25 AM by sanman »

Offline sanman

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #311 on: 06/10/2017 10:55 AM »
Another thing I'd like to ask - how many more unmanned test flights will ISRO's Crew Module have to undergo, before it can carry live passengers? There's already been the suborbital flight of the Crew Module aboard the LVM3-X/CARE mission, but surely that's not enough, is it? China did 4 unmanned flights of Shenzhou before flying live passengers. How many more should India do?

Online EgorBotts

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #312 on: 06/10/2017 12:57 PM »
Another thing I'd like to ask - how many more unmanned test flights will ISRO's Crew Module have to undergo, before it can carry live passengers? There's already been the suborbital flight of the Crew Module aboard the LVM3-X/CARE mission, but surely that's not enough, is it? China did 4 unmanned flights of Shenzhou before flying live passengers. How many more should India do?

It depends largely on the space agency, but usually there are at least one full orbital test with crew and service module, life support systems, atmospheric reentry tests, etc. In early space flight history, a lot of these subsystems were tested with animals and subscaled capsule. In addition, abort tests are necessary.
My non-specialised guess is at least 2 "almost ready" flights before a first manned attempt.

Offline maint1234

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #313 on: 06/10/2017 02:06 PM »
Why not involve one of the mideast countries like UAE  from the financing angle?
UAE i believe has previously shown interest in a collabaration with India in space matters.
One crew member could be from UAE for the flights.

Offline vineethgk

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #314 on: 06/10/2017 02:26 PM »
Another thing I'd like to ask - how many more unmanned test flights will ISRO's Crew Module have to undergo, before it can carry live passengers? There's already been the suborbital flight of the Crew Module aboard the LVM3-X/CARE mission, but surely that's not enough, is it? China did 4 unmanned flights of Shenzhou before flying live passengers. How many more should India do?
They need to be really, really confident that things would work as expected as the lives of people are at stake. There could be multiple unmanned flights of the final mission-ready stack. This could be preceded by test flights for evaluating propulsion module, life support systems etc..

Offline vineethgk

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #315 on: 06/10/2017 02:29 PM »
Why not involve one of the mideast countries like UAE  from the financing angle?
UAE i believe has previously shown interest in a collabaration with India in space matters.
One crew member could be from UAE for the flights.
Even if the Arabs or any other nation were interested, it might be seen as a compromise on strategic autonomy by both ISRO and the Govt, as someone else gets to have a say on how missions are run.

Offline sanman

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #316 on: 06/10/2017 02:52 PM »
Would an initial orbital flight be expected to do just a single orbit? What would such an initial manned flight be expected to look like?
Presumably the Crew Capsule won't be mounted the way it was in the LVM3-X/CARE mission (upside-down inside a fairing) and will instead have the classical tractor-LAS-rocket mounted on top of the capsule, which would be mounted where the payload fairing would normally be. Are there any illustrations available of such a flight-configuration (ie, of capsule mounted on Mk3)?  Because given how small the capsule is compared to the standard fairing, it's probably going to give Mk3 a shrunken-head look.

I've read in recent articles that ISRO would like India's first astronaut to be a woman - does this mean the first flight will be a single individual?  (I guess it makes sense to not risk multiple lives on an initial flight, even though the capsule is supposed to be able to hold 3 people)
Any other useful criteria for India's first indigenously-launched astronaut? (I assume it'll be an air force pilot, even though some people have said it should be an engineer)

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #317 on: 06/10/2017 03:03 PM »
I would still like to know what the long-term goal of the indian piloted space programme is.   Right now it seems to be nothing more than orbiting a few people with no indications of anything beyond that - like work on orbital stations, etc.

Offline vineethgk

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #318 on: 06/10/2017 03:43 PM »
Would an initial orbital flight be expected to do just a single orbit? What would such an initial manned flight be expected to look like?
Presumably the Crew Capsule won't be mounted the way it was in the LVM3-X/CARE mission (upside-down inside a fairing) and will instead have the classical tractor-LAS-rocket mounted on top of the capsule, which would be mounted where the payload fairing would normally be. Are there any illustrations available of such a flight-configuration (ie, of capsule mounted on Mk3)?  Because given how small the capsule is compared to the standard fairing, it's probably going to give Mk3 a shrunken-head look.

I've read in recent articles that ISRO would like India's first astronaut to be a woman - does this mean the first flight will be a single individual?  (I guess it makes sense to not risk multiple lives on an initial flight, even though the capsule is supposed to be able to hold 3 people)
Any other useful criteria for India's first indigenously-launched astronaut? (I assume it'll be an air force pilot, even though some people have said it should be an engineer)

These are some pretty old illustrations that were floating around. Not sure if they were from official ISRO sources or merely fan renderings. And the design might have changed considerably in recent times.

Offline vineethgk

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Re: Indian Human Spaceflight Program
« Reply #319 on: 06/10/2017 03:46 PM »
To add to my previous post, note that the launch vehicle depicted in second pic is a GSLV-II (as was the plan originally), while it will instead be GSLV-III as per all recent statements from ISRO.
« Last Edit: 06/10/2017 03:46 PM by vineethgk »

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