Indian Space Budget Funds Astronaut Capsule

by

BANGALORE, India — India on Feb. 28 unveiled a 39 billion-rupee ($884 million) space activities budget for the fiscal year beginning April 1, representing a 29 percent increase over the current year and including significant funds for a human spaceflight program.

According to budget documents, 500 million rupees have been earmarked for “developing a fully autonomous orbital vehicle to carry a two-member crew to low Earth orbit and safely return them to Earth.”

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) took an important step toward a human spaceflight capability earlier this year when it launched and successfully recovered a capsule that returned to Earth after 12 days in orbit .

The budget, which is final, also includes 250 million rupees to develop a high-thrust rocket engine powered by kerosene rather than liquid hydrogen, and 100 million rupees for development of a new class of communications satellites weighing 4 metric tons, documents show.

India’s main satellite and launch vehicle development facilities, the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, both located in Thiruvanathapuram , are being allotted 1.43 billion rupees out of the total budget, documents show.

Other highlights of the budget request include:

  • 300 million rupees to begin work on a geostationary-orbiting satellite that would provide continuous monitoring of the ground at resolutions of around 100 meters . The spacecraft would be used for disaster management and other purposes, said S. Krishnamurthy, a spokesman for ISRO.
  • 960 million rupees for India’s first planetary mission, the Chandrayaan-1, lunar orbiter slated for launch next year.
  • 860 million for a regional satellite navigation system, which won cabinet approval in 2005. Krishnamurthy said the system will consist of seven satellites providing position-location information with accuracies comparable to the U.S. GPS system and covering an area extending 1,500 kilometers from India’s borders.
  • 230 million rupees for national laboratories and universities “for activities related to developing scientific payloads for space science and planetary exploration studies.”
  • 100 million rupees to establish India’s first institute for space science and technology dedicated training ” the high quality manpower customized to meet requirements of the space program.” Krishnamurthy said the institute is scheduled to be established in Thiruvanathapuram in time for the 2007-2008 academic year.