India’s own space station & does it benefit our space program in future?

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Question – What is India’s plan to have its own space station, and how will it benefit our space program in the future? – 19 October 2021

Answer – According to a recent announcement made by ISRO Chairman K Sivan, India is looking to build its own space station in space by the end of this decade i.e. 2030. ISRO is already working on the plan of Gaganyaan mission in the year 2022. In this mission, India is also planning to send 3 Indians to space on its own. In this context India needs its own space station.

There are currently two space stations operating in space, one of which is being operated in collaboration with the US, Russia, the European Union and Japan. It is called the International Space Station (ISS). The second space station belongs to China, its name is Tiangong-2, but only the ISS is fully active.

The space station is installed in Low Earth Orbit-LEO. The range of this orbit is up to 2000 km from Earth. Astronauts live on the station and conduct experiments related to various subjects in biology, medicine, astronomy, meteorology, etc. Usually such experiments are not possible on Earth because they require special environment. At the same time, such stations are also useful for deep study of space.

ISRO’s space station plan:

  • After the Gaganyaan mission, the ISRO will submit a detailed report to the government on how it wants to set up the space station. ISRO currently believes that conceptualizing the space station will take five to seven years.
  • The Indian space station will be much smaller than the International Space Station and will currently be used for microgravity experiments (not for space tourism).
  • The initial plan for the space station is to accommodate astronauts for 20 days in space, and the project will be an extension of the Gaganyaan mission.
  • ISRO is working on ‘space docking experiment (Spadex)’, a technology that is crucial for making the space station functional. Space docking is a technology that allows transferring humans from one spacecraft to another.

Significance of the space station:

  • The space station is essential for collecting meaningful scientific data, especially for biological experiments.
  • Providing a platform for a greater number of scientific studies than other space vehicles. (As Gaganyaan is capable of carrying humans and microgravity experiments only for a few days).
  • It will help in various microgravity science experiments in diverse fields such as astronomy, materials science, space medicine and space weather.
  • Space stations are also used to study the effects of long-duration space flight on the human body.

Challenges:

  • India often lacks funds for such programs, so building a space station can be very difficult. It is known that the construction of the ISS cost $ 160 billion. Although the weight of the ISS is 20 times more than the proposed Indian station, India will still need a huge fund.
  • India wants to build a space station using indigenous technology. In such a situation, this task becomes even more challenging for India. Even though India has set many records in the field of space, it is still complicated for India to manufacture such technology. If the project progresses beyond its stipulated time, it becomes difficult to change the technology associated with it over time. This technological change is necessary not only at the construction stage, but also to maintain the station.
  • India plans to build a 20 tonne station. But it will be necessary to increase its size keeping in mind the future needs of India. India will have to make a comprehensive plan keeping in mind such changes in future.

India has achieved many records in the short period and limited resources since the beginning of research in the field of space. The present Indian space agency ISRO is famous all over the world for making complex programs successful in low cost. This heritage of India enables India to address the challenges that will come in the field of space in the future. In such a situation, India can tackle the challenges in building a space station by making efficient use of its limited resources and creating the right technologies.

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