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Scaling up Tech Capability vital in Space Mission: VSSC Director

In Trivandrum
November 10, 2023

At a time when many countries aim to have habitations in Mars, further bolstering India’s space mission by scaling up technological capability is vital to achieve higher goals, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) Director Dr S Unnikrishnan Nair said here today.

“Several nations are going to have permanent colonies in Mars and we should prove that we are also ready with our technologies that are on par with them,” Dr Nair said while delivering Sir C V Raman Lecture organized by Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) here, organized to mark the birth anniversary of the Nobel Prize winning physicist.

RGCB Director Prof Chandrabhas Narayana presided over the function.

Now, NASA and space missions of other top countries are keen to have more engagement with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and it is part of the Artemis programme of NASA, Dr Nair said while speaking on ‘Challenges in Human Space Flight Mission.’

Noting that the launch vehicles for missions like Aditya, Chandrayaan-1,2 and 3, Gaganyaan were made at VSSC, he said the centre is preparing the submersible spherical vessel which goes to 5,000 meter depth for the ambitious Samudrayaan project, the country’s first manned deep ocean mission to study the deep ocean resources such as metals, minerals, and biodiversity.

He said VSSC is also working on how technologies can be delivered for space tourism since more private agencies have evinced interest in space tourism and space mining. In future, the potentials of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics may play pivotal roles in space mission.

Dr Nair said Moon is not a friendly place as it has no atmosphere, besides getting bombarded by meteoroids; resulting in forming a surface with loose soil. Mars is a promising planet which has got a very thin atmosphere (one hundredth of earth) and the number of day and night is 24 hours. It has got a hilly terrain and semblance to earth, he said.

Elaborating on the challenges in space mission, the VSSC Director said surviving the zero gravity and radiation condition, dealing with biological rhythm, weightlessness and psychological issues are crucial.

So far 552 men and 72 women have gone to space and technology along with training facilities have to be updated to identify and train more people.

Commenting on beyond 2025-35, Dr Nair said there will be a follow-up mission on Gaganyaan, activities like how to make a space test, how to make large capability vehicle that can go to Moon, how to bring back samples from Moon and how we can have our own space station.

He added that like any other technology, bioastronautics has huge scope in space programmes as it can explore how life is going to evolve in space and what are the medicines that can be taken care of.