January 27, 2010

India To Send Two Astronauts Into Space By 2016

A top official said Wednesday that India will launch its first manned space mission in 2016 in an effort to match space pioneers such as Russia and the United States, AFP reported.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) had already been granted plans by the government for a human space flight project.

Last year it gave the go-ahead for funding of around $2.8 billion.

The agency will develop the space module for the program within four years, according to ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan.

Radhakrishnan told reporters at ISRO headquarters in Bangalore that they are planning a human space flight in 2016, with two astronauts who will spend seven days in the Earth's lower orbit.

They also plan to establish a facility in Bangalore for training the astronauts as well as building a third launch pad at its spaceport in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

India's Chandrayaan-1 satellite discovered water on the moon in September, boosting India's credibility among established space-faring nations.

"Spacecraft for the proposed manned mission will have extra facilities like entry into crew capsule and an escape chute," said Radhakrishnan.

India's space program started in 1963 and has since developed its own satellites and launch vehicles to cut dependence on overseas agencies.


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