ISRO has designed advanced spacesuits to be used by Gaganauts for the upcoming crewed mission

Bangalore: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has asked Indian scientists to come up with micro-gravity experiment proposals that can be sent to space in the two missions preceding the first Indian manned space mission. The ambitious Gaganyaan was announced on August 15 and is targeted for 2022.

An announcement last week suggested 10 areas in which Indian institutions and researchers may work in a spacecraft orbiting some 400 km away from Earth and under weak gravity and low weight conditions.

The human space flight is planned to take two or three astronauts to travel in this orbit for five to seven days. Two unmanned flights will precede the main mission and are intended to give ISRO the confidence to put fellow Indians to space.

Depending on their evaluation, weight and suitability, the selected micro-gravity experiments may go on the unmanned flights — and perhaps also on the manned mission, according to ISRO’s spokesman.

A committee will assess and finalise the studies that can be conducted within the duration of the LEO flights. “We, too, are trying to prove technologies, so a clear outcome of the study would be a criterion,” the spokesman said. Internationally, a lot of research has been done in the area of micro-gravity. Gaganyaan, he said, would be a first and home platform for Indian scientists who may be working in micro-gravity areas in labs.

Proposals have been sought by December 20. ISRO is meanwhile said to be putting together a crack team to work on the prestigious mission that will make India the fourth country to put its nationals in space in its own mission. (Back in 1984, IAF pilot Rakesh Sharma, who later retired as a Wing Commander, became the first Indian to travel to space but as part of a mission of the erstwhile Soviet Union.)

The announcement of opportunity said, “... ISRO is planning a human space flight mission from LEO [low Earth orbit] in the near future. [It] seeks inputs from the national scientific community on scientific investigations in a LEO.” There would be two opportunities, one coming up after 24 months (around November 2020) and another after 30 months (roughly May 2021) and well ahead of the big flight.