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India to build new launch pad, astronaut-training center

Rakesh Sharma is the first Indian to travel to space

BANGALORE (PTI): India plans to build a new satellite launch pad and a major training facility for astronauts as it proposes to undertake a manned space mission by 2015.

“The cost of setting up the launch pad is around Rs 600 crore. A major national facility for training astronauts will be established in Bangalore," Indian Space research Organisation Chairman G Madhavan Nair said.

It would be the third launch pad in the Sriharikota spaceport on the east coast in Andhra Pradesh, some 100 km north of Chennai. Nair said the manned mission has been approved by the Space Commission, and a formal government nod is expected soon.

The technologically challenging manned mission (human space flight) envisages development of a fully autonomous manned space vehicle to carry crew (two members) to low earth orbit and their safe return. It also includes development of critical/new technologies for crew module, service module, launch escape system, establishment of long-term facilities and identifying detailed elements required for undertaking the venture.

“Basically, technology elements required for development of habitable module is the top-most priority,” Nair, also Secretary in the Department of Space, said.

“Technology elements required for improving the reliability of launch systems have been identified. Crew escape and mission management system has to be in place,” he said.

In 2006, ISRO said the preliminary estimated cost for the manned space mission was Rs 10,000 crore spread over a period of eight years.

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