Manned space mission next priority: Isro chief K Sivan
India is on course to send astronauts into space for the first time by the end of December 2021 and a pilotless flight of a spacecraft that can carry humans is likely to be carried out next year, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chief K Sivan said on Saturday.
“By December 2020, we will have our first unmanned mission of human space plane. The second unmanned human space plane, we target for July 2021,” he said.
The scientist also added that despite the setback with Chandrayaan-2’s lander module – the device has not been communicating since it was about to make a soft landing on the lunar surface – the mission was a 98% success.
“We could not establish any communication with Vikram lander yet. The project was developed in two parts - science and technology demonstration. We achieved total success in science while in technology demonstration, the success percentage was almost full. That’s why the project can be termed as 98% successful,” said Sivan after reaching Bhubaneswar, where he attended the convocation ceremony of Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar.
Isro’s attempts to restore contact with Vikram lander ran out of deadline on Saturday, when lunar night descends over the area it is believed to have landed in. A lunar night, equivalent to 14 earth days, will create temperatures too cold for the device to function and the darkness will remove the solar energy needed to power it.
“Orbiter continues to perform scheduled science experiments to complete satisfaction. There are eight instruments in the orbiter and each instrument is doing exactly what it meant to do. The orbiter was initially planned for a year, but with the optimum mission planning there is every possibility that it will last for another seven and a half years,” he said.
“...some of the pictures what we got were excellent and it is going to do a greater amount of science (research),” he added.
Though the orbiter was initially planned for only a year, he said in view of “very optimum mission planning, we are able to get seven and a half years of life time. So we are going to get seven and a half years of science (research) not one year.”
The lander with rover ‘Pragyan’ housed inside, lost communication with the ground station on September 7 during its final descent, just 2.1 kms above the lunar surface, minutes before the planned touch-down.
A national-level committee comprising academicians and Isro experts is analysing the cause of the communication loss with ‘Vikram’, Sivan said.