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India nowhere less than China in space arena, says ISRO chief

Stating that India was “nowhere less than China” in the arena of space, ISRO chief Dr K Sivan Friday said that after the success of the Gaganyaan mission, it will be equal to its neighbour in all aspects related to the field.

“We are nowhere less than China,” Sivan said. He was responding to a question that sought to draw a parallel between the two countries. “They had the human space capability, which we did not have, but once we have a successful Gaganyaan project by 2022, we will be equal to them in all aspects,” he said. India has announced that Gaganyaan will take off by 2022. China launched its first manned space mission in 2003.

Sivan also announced that ISRO will select over 100 students from across India and give them a practical experience of how satellites are built under the new ‘Young Scientist Programme’. The initiative is aimed at attracting school students, mostly in Class VIII, who will be given lectures by ISRO scientists and given access to the space agency’s labs.

Sivan said Friday that the first unmanned mission for Gaganyaan has been planned for December 2020, the second for July 2021 and the final by December 2021.

It is likely that astronauts on the human space mission will mostly be pilots. Sivan said the Indian Air Force and other agencies will play a major role during the selection of astronauts.

This month, the first Chinese mission landed on the far side of the Moon. India also has an ambitious mission, Chandrayaan-2, to land on Moon’s South Pole, a region unexplored by any country so far, Sivan said.

However, the plan was to initially launch the mission in April last year, but it has now been postponed to the first quarter of this year. Sivan said that the reason for the launch delay of Chandrayaan-2 was because during the National Experts Review in February last year, it was found that it needed to be improved in terms of robustness.

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