India's top scientists and technologists have cheered the ambitious space plans of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) -- to put an Indian in space by 2014 and another on the moon by 2020.
At a meeting called by ISRO on Tuesday to discuss its space plans with other experts from across the country, scientists were unanimous that India should go ahead with the missions. "They were very happy that we had taken the initiative and said we should go ahead," said ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair after the discussions.
India's grand space plans were reported first in the Hindustan Times.
Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, the only Indian to have ventured into space as part of the Soyuz T-11 mission in 1984, also participated in the discussions. "We need to aspire for more. It is a technologically challenging mission and our space programme has the capability," he told reporters.
Nair said ISRO would give a report to the government before the year-end. "The scientists made some suggestions on how to improve the safety and reliability of the space capsule (that will take the Indians to space). We will add these to the report," he said.
ISRO would adopt a one-at-a-time approach to achieve its goals. "Our first priority is to get an Indian into space and have him orbit the earth. For the voyage to the moon, we require additional equipment and know-how. We will study these issues in due course," he said.
The manned mission into space is likely to cost around Rs 10,000 crore.