T.S. Subramanian

SRIHARIKOTA: In about seven years from now, India will be able to send two of its astronauts into space aboard its Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), said K. Radhakrishnan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, on Monday.

The Centre’s go-ahead to the manned mission project is awaited. The manned mission will be preceded by three unmanned ones to the moon. The Indian Space Research Organisation’s first unmanned mission to the moon — sending Chandrayaan-1 into lunar orbit — will take place in the third quarter of 2008.

Dr. Radhakrishnan, who answered questions from reporters after the successful PSLV-C9 flight from Sriharikota, said ISRO had been conducting studies for the past four years on putting an Indian into orbit. The GSLV would be able to take a crew of two astronauts into low-earth orbit.

In a manned mission, important factors such as reliability, the safety of the crew and their module, the reliability of their ejection systems in case of any problem came into play. When the crew went round the earth in their module, they should be visible to the ground all the time.

ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair said the organisation might get the full approval for the manned mission in six months. The Government of India had sanctioned Rs. 95 crore to ISRO for doing initial studies on the project.