Mars conquered, Isro gears up for more

  • HT Correspondent and Agencies, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 24, 2014 18:58 IST

As India basked in the glory of a successful Mars mission on Wednesday, scientists at Isro looked ahead to future programmes including the second mission to the Moon in a couple of years.

While the space agency has lined up Chandrayan-II - the second lunar mission - for 2016-17, it will take up an ambitious test flight of the next-generation Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) MkIII by the end of 2014.

Isro sources said the GSLV MkIII is an upgraded version of the cryogenic launch vehicle and is designed to carry payloads of more than 400 tonnes.

The GSLV MkIII launch will also carry a "crew module" for future manned spaceflights, the sources added.

The GSLV MkIII will enable Isro to put heavier satellites in orbit and give the country a bigger pie of the lucrative international market.

Despite many success stories, India is still a small player in the global space industry that grew to $314 billion in revenues and government budgets in 2013, according to the Colorado-based Space Foundation.

Experts believe that the Mars mission success can help change that.

"Isro will now hopefully attract a lot of business," said Mayank N Vahia, a scientist at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. "We will now attract more international attention and international trade for satellites."

Another key test for the Isro is the 'space capsule recovery experiment' (SRE)-tentatively slated for later this year - a key component of any manned spaceflight.

The first SRE was conducted in January, 2007.

According to the Isro sources, SRE-2 will conduct tests on some of the critical technologies needed for a manned spaceflight, another dream project of the agency.

Besides, Isro is also busy building a 'lander' and 'rover' for the second lunar mission Chandrayaan-II, slated for launch by late 2016 or early 2017.

Chandrayaan-I, India's first unmanned lunar probe was launched using a PSLV-XL rocket by Isro in 2008.

In between, Isro will launch the satellite Astrosat in 2015 "aimed at studying the celestial sources and will carry a suite of instruments", the sources added.

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