The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning on launching a ‘small’ crewed space station.
ISRO head, Dr. K Sivan made the announcement on Thursday adding India would not join the ISS. The ambitious project is an extension of the Gaganyaan mission, which aims to send an Indian crew to space in 2022.
"We have to sustain the Gaganyaan programme. So, subsequently, as a long-term plan, we are planning to have the space station. We are going to join the international community in manned missions to moon, asteroids. We have a clear plan for the space programme," Sivan told local reporters.
“We are planning to have a separate space station. We will not be a part of the ISS. Our space station is going to be very small. We will be launching a small module and that will be used for carrying out microgravity experiments," he added.
Base for experiments and observations
The 20-tonne space station will be able to support astronauts for extended missions to space. An orbiting space station provides a consistent base for space-related experiments and observations.
India has confirmed it will send its first crewed mission into space in 2022.
"On the eve of 75th Independence anniversary of India in 2022, ISRO has resolved to send its first human mission into space. An exclusive special cell - Gaganyaan National Advisory Council - has been created to monitor planning, preparation of the mission," Union Minister of State for Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh said.
Big missions on small budgets
Despite working with much smaller budgets than their American and Chinese counterparts, the Indian space organisation has launched several globally important missions.
ISRO’s first mission to the moon in 2008 was critical in confirming the presence of water molecules on the moon.
In 2014, a successful mission to Mars cost $74 million (around Rs 514 crore) just a tiny portion of the $671 million spent by the US space agency NASA on a similar project.
There is currently only one functioning space station in Earth lower orbit, the International Space Station (ISS).
ISS may retire within a decade
The ISS is an ongoing collaboration between by European Space Agency, the United States (NASA), Japan (JAXA), Canada (CSA) and Russia (Roscosmos). The first section of the ISS was launched in 1998, with its first long-term crew arriving two years later.
The ISS may reach the end of its life within a decade, but there are no concrete plans to replace it. China has announced its intention to launch a space station and says it would welcome international collaboration.