As India gears up to send humans in to space, it must invest in clean technology for jet propulsion of rockets, Susmita Mohanty, a spaceship designer, said on Monday.
Mohanty was addressing a press conference at American Center at the New Marine Lines in Mumbai.
“India and China are joining the race to send humans to space, they must invest in research and innovation in propulsion technology. In the last 40 to 50 years, the world could have invested more in propulsion. We are still flying dirty rockets,” said Mohanty, who has worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston.
Mohanty said that the debris left in space by shuttles was a cause of concern. “Since Sputnik (launched in 1957) till now, the world has created a lot of space debris from paint chips to solar panels. These move at very high speed (28,000km an hour) around the earth’s orbit leading to debris hits (to space shuttles),” said Mohanty.
“But since the chances of the hit is one in 20 years, we are not serious enough.”
Stating that more humans are bound to land on the moon, Mohanty said, “We need to come up with clean rules on contamination and decontamination. We need to be delicate and treat exploration with some level of tenderness and kindness.”
Born in Ahmedabad, Mohanty’s father worked at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) and was part of the team building the country’s first communication satellite. Mohanty graduated from the International Space University, France and worked on Shuttle-Mir missions at NASA and in business development for the International Space Station program at Boeing in California.
In 2001, she turned entrepreneur and co-founded three companies: Moonfront in San Francisco, Liquifer in Vienna and Earth2Orbit in Mumbai.
Earth2Orbit, India’s first private space start-up, is actively involved in furthering the country’s commercial space programme.
The company has booked international customers to launch their satellites on board the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle built by Isro. Stating that the annual commercial civil space market is worth $160 billion, Mohanty added, “It is important for India to take this market very seriously and compete internationally.”