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ISRO Adds Human Angle to Space Missions, Taking Cue From ‘MARTIAN’ Film

Beyond man launch in next mission, Indian Space Research Organisations (ISRO) is also contemplating the mechanism to rescue its astronauts in case of mid-space abortion of a mission.

In case of an emergency, the astronauts can eject themselves to safety from their rockets but capturing them on to another safe rocket is the challenge that ISRO is determined to explore before heralding on its man mission to space.

Based more on a typical defence aircraft where a pilot ejects himself safely from the abandoned one mid-air, the new test will examine the possibility of an astronaut ejecting himself out and landing safely on earth or hoked on by a mid-air aircraft on standby.

In the film ‘The Martian’, an astronaut was left behind on Mars and his survival for over a year was supported by scientific exploration of relevant available food, safety measures, motorable vehicle and finally a standby rocket. ISRO is hoping to reach it at least half the way.

“We are getting ready for the pad abort test and it will happen soon,” said A.S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman of ISRO recently. The lessons to be learnt are from the disaster of US space shuttle Columbia,killing all the death of seven crew members including Indian-origin scientist Kalpana Chawla.

The ambitious safety ejection module includes special space suits, life support system on board the spacecraft, weather control mechanism inside the space suit, most of them necessary for an astronaut in case he is caught mid-space. It would be either a single-person module or two-person module with ability to survive for some time before the rescue mission reaches out to them.

As ISRO is currently working on its next phase spacecraft vehicle GSLV-III, with the most powerful rocket designed ever in India, the human angle will be added as a safe mechanism for a journey into space, possibly by 2020.
ISRO has reportedly sent a proposal to the centre for funding approval to launch a mid-sapce tests to bring back its astronauts to safety. This could be part of the Rs.12,500 crore budget sought by ISRO for the Human Space Glight (HSF) program. The government has reportedly allocated Rs. 100 crore for pre-project studies.

ISRO is keen to launch human missions as it is far behind other big space nations’ club including US, Russia, Europe and China. China, which has succesfully managed two manned flights since 2013 is now working on a permanent space station by 2022.

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