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India plans manned space mission by 2015

A jubilant Chandrayaan-1 team

SRIHARIKOTA (BNS): The Indian Space Research Organisation is planning to carry out its first indigenous manned space mission by 2015, Indian space scientists said moments after Chandrayaan-1 blasted off into the sky on Wednesday.

After the spectacular success of the country's maiden unmanned Moon mission Chandrayaan-1, ISRO said on Wednesday that it would gear up for the complex and challenging task of the manned mission which is waiting government's approval. The manned mission project is estimated to cost Rs 120 billion (about 2.4 billion dollars).

"Now we have a little bit of breathing time. We are looking how we can design a capsule, which can carry two (Indian) astronauts onboard a GSLV rocket," ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair said.

"This is a very complex and challenging task. First of all to conceive a module, which can predict the condition of human life in space, is a big challenge in terms of technology and realisation," he said. The manned mission will be an indigenous initiative but foreign agencies are welcome to cooperate, he said.

Besides, selecting astronauts and training them for the space flight and improving the reliability of the launching system are other complex issues, he said.

"After considering all these, we have prepared a project report and this had been cleared by the Space Commission and is awaiting government approval. Based on this, we will have the first man mission from Indian soil before 2015," a beaming Nair said.

In 1984, India sent its first citizen to space, when Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma flew to the Salyut 7 space station in a Russian spacecraft. The only other Indian-born to go to space is the late Kalpana Chawla, but she flew as a NASA astronaut. Chawla was killed along with six other astronauts on February 1, 2003 when the Columbia shuttle blew up during reentry over Texas.

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