Nair rues de­lay in hu­man space­flight plan

For­mer ISRO chief at­tributes de­lay to po­lit­i­cal fac­tors and changed pri­or­i­ties

The Hindu - - NATION - Tiki Ra­jwi

In­dia could have put an as­tro­naut in space in 2015 had the orig­i­nal plan for the hu­man space­flight pro­gramme worked out, for­mer ISRO chair­man G. Mad­ha­van Nair has said.

Mr. Mad­ha­van Nair, who headed the space agency from 2003 to 2009, at­trib­uted the de­lay to po­lit­i­cal fac­tors and the changed pri­or­i­ties of the sub­se­quent ISRO man­age­ment.

“But it’s never too late. ISRO now has a strong chair­man in K. Si­van. The hu­man space­flight mis­sion will be a turn­ing point in the In­dian space pro­gramme,” he told

on Fri­day, re­spond­ing to ISRO’s for­mal an­nounce­ment that it plans to put three In­di­ans in space in

The Hindu

De­cem­ber 2021.

Ac­cord­ing to Mad­ha­van Nair, it was in 2005 that ISRO de­cided that it was time to think be­yond the grand vi­sion of Dr. Vikram Sarab­hai. “Dr. Sarab­hai wanted In­dia to achieve self-re­liance in satel­lite build­ing, launch ve­hi­cle tech­nol­ogy and, more im­por­tantly, en­sure that the com­mon man ben­e­fited from these tech­nolo­gies. We took a re­view in 2005. The ques­tion was, what next?” re­calls Mr. Nair.

Nat­u­ral choice

The hu­man space­flight pro­gramme was a nat­u­ral choice as a tar­get for the fu­ture, he said.

“Hu­man ac­cess to space had be­come very im­por­tant for var­i­ous rea­sons. One, ISRO had im­proved in terms of launch ve­hi­cle tech­nol­ogy. Sec­ond, if we are to send hu­mans to the Moon and Mars, we have to make a be­gin­ning,” he said.

In 2008, ISRO pre­pared a project re­port and sub­mit­ted it to Space Com­mis­sion. The same year, a small team was formed at the Vikram Sarab­hai Space Cen­tre (VSSC) to study var­i­ous as­pects of space­flight and the tech­nolo­gies that such a ven­ture called for. It was headed by S. Un­nikr­ish­nan Nair, who was ap­pointed project di­rec­tor, Hu­man Space­flight Pro­gramme (HSP). The team con­sisted of 10 to 12 peo­ple.

Green light

“In 2009, the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion gave the green light for the pro­gramme.

“In 2009, the plan was to have the mis­sion in six years. So by 2015, we would have been fly­ing in earth or­bit. But un­for­tu­nately due to var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal fac­tors and prob­a­bly, the at­ti­tude of the sub­se­quent man­age­ment in ISRO it was put in cold stor­age,” he said.

G.Mad­ha­van Nair headed ISRO from 2003 to 2009.

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