HYDERABAD: India's first human spaceflight to the moon planned for next year by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will have three cosmonauts sitting in a titanium chamber, the specialised material for which has been provided by Hyderabad-based Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (Midhani). The defence public sector enterprise has already supplied the first consignment of the material needed in the fabrication of the chamber.

"In one stroke, we have met the requirement for Gaganyaan," Midhani chairman and managing director Sanjay Kumar Jha told TOI. He said titanium alloy, light in weight and suitable for the manned moon mission, was supplied after passing stringent tests. "It was challenging and with the technology we have what was needed was provided," Jha said.

Four IAF personnel have been selected for training in Russia for the journey to the moon.

Midhani Associated With ISRO In All Projects So Far

Three of them will be on board when ISRO launches Gaganyaan, scheduled for December 2021. Their training began on February 10, just a month before the Covid-19 lockdown.

Midhani has been associated with ISRO in all its projects so far. The material for the rocket motor casing for PSLV and GSLV vehicles have also supplied by the PSE, apart from the material for the fuel tank and the engine from which they are fired.

“One engine has 15-20 grades of steel, titanium, super alloys, and nickel-based alloys. All these material technologies are used for space applications,” Jha said about the specialised materials that are supplied for space programs of ISRO. Titanium is already in the product list of Midhani but what is being provided to ISRO for fabrication of the chamber in which the astronauts will sit is of a grade that meets higher specifications. “The Gaganyaan mission will be a huge achievement for India, ISRO and for us at Midhani,” Jha said. A spokesperson of ISRO told TOI from Bengaluru that Gaganyaan was on schedule. “We have not revealed names of the astronauts-elect yet,” he said. Meanwhile, the Research, Development & Production Enterprise Zvezda under the contract of Glavkosmos with the Human Spaceflight Centre of ISRO has started manufacturing personal flight equipment for the Indian cosmonauts. This was announced on September 7.

Glavkosmos JSC is a subsidiary of the Russian space corporation ROSCOSMOS. This is where the cosmonauts are trained. Zvezda produces spacesuits. “On September 3, Indian cosmonauts who have been training for a spaceflight in Russia under the contract of Glavkosmos visited Zvezda where anthropometric parameters were measured for subsequent production of spacesuits. Contract also provides for production of individual seats and custom-made couch liners,” CEO of Glavkosmos Dmitry Loskutov said on the company’s website.