BANGALORE: India, which is gearing up for a December 2021 launch of the first uncrewed mission as part of its human spaceflight program (Gaganyaan), is committed to a sustained human presence in space, the latest policy reveals.

The department of space (DoS), as part of a series of new policy initiatives, has prepared a draft “Human Space Policy-2021”, that also envisages joint human missions with international partners in the future, while opening up business opportunities for domestic industry.

The document reads that the human space program envisages undertaking demonstration of human spaceflight to LEO (low-earth orbit) in the short-term and lay the foundation for a sustained exploration in the long run that will enable presence in LEO and beyond.

TOI was the first to report that India’s ambitions are beyond just Gaganyaan and that ISRO is also planning a space station of its own. “Gaganyaan is the beginning and we won’t stop there. We’ll continue the program and send people to space station and Moon,” ISRO chairman K Sivan had told TOI in January 2019, five months before India officially announced plans for a space station.

Just as with Gaganyaan, the long-term program will see ISRO undertake capacity building measures — collaborations, infrastructure development, modernisation, technology development etc — and encourage new industries, creating high technology jobs, enabling socio-economic growth.

“International cooperation will be a tool for taking up projects of mutual interest to enhance knowledge in diversified domains. Expertise of collaborative partners will be utilised to add scientific value and accelerate the programs. Participation of national research institutions, academia and industry in international human programs is also envisaged with DoS and ISRO acting as focal points,” the document reads.

Stating that India is committed to maintain its role as a leading space faring nation, the DoS said this will happen through innovation and collaborations in alignment with national interests.

The draft will be in public domain for comments until the end of February. From identifying and developing critical technologies to enabling academia, R&D institutions and private industry to participate in the program, the draft has laid out a broad outline of the policy and specific guidelines will be announced in the future.

Pointing out that human spaceflight programs world over have delivered large economic and technological benefits, the DoS says: “Human-spaceflight programs need to be sustained over longer periods to deliver tangible benefits.”

“...This decision comes at a time when the space industry both at national and global level is undergoing transformation wherein non-traditional players are striving to play a greater role in the overall space economy,” the document reads.

DoS said that given the collaborative nature of human spaceflight, it’s essential to have a policy-framework on human spaceflight, which not only fosters collaborations but also addresses proliferation concerns and compliance to existing policies, laws and treaties.