Barely 90 days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a human spaceflight mission, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has begun the process of drawing up a shortlist of experiments it will conduct in the low earth orbit (LEO), where it intends to send Indian astronauts (gaganauts).
Isro is looking at a pool of at least 10 experiments, which could include testing of medical equipment to micro-biological experiments such as biological air filters and biosensors, and from life support and biomedical waste management to monitoring toxic gases.
“While we have indicated 10 areas that we are interested in, we will not restrict experiments to just these areas,” an Isro official said. “Also, we will obtain specific experiments in these areas from various institutions across India,” the official added.
Isro has also officially announced opportunities for LEO-based microgravity experiments. “As Isro is planning a human spaceflight mission, it seeks input from the national scientific community to conduct experiments in microgravity platform in LEO,” Isro said.
The space agency said the proposed work could be a continuation of existing research with activities for a potential short duration — between one and seven days — and experiments on microgravity platforms. Or, scientists can propose an entirely new concept requiring a microgravity environment.
The proposed orbit for the experiments is an earth-bound orbit at an altitude of about 400km around earth. “The enclosure for conducting the experiments will have normal room temperature (tentatively 0-4 degree Celsius) and pressure conditions (tentatively around one atmospheric pressure at sea level) experienced on earth,” Isro said.
However, payloads that need to be placed outside the enclosure will be subject to normal space environment — thermal, vacuum and radiation — conditions and instruments are required to be designed to survive vibration and acoustics loads during launch and return.
Since Isro is planning two kinds of payloads/instruments — internal and external — the agency also has the option of conducting experiments remotely. They can be commanded from the ground, if required.
The human spaceflight mission, that is estimated to cost Rs 10,000 crore, will be Isro’s biggest mission to date. While work on several technologies and subsystems has been ongoing at various Isro labs, work in several key areas like life support and human-rating of systems, including the launch vehicle, will garner prime focus over the next few months.
Categories: Sci & Tech