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India’s space station is expected to be very small with limited utility. It would be placed in an Orbit, 400km above the earth.

            ISRO would start planning for the station only after the successful completion of a manned space flight, slated for 2022.

Features of India’s Space Station:-

1.Exclusion from International Space Station (ISS) experiment:-

India did not participate  in the International Space Station (ISS) experiment.  The ISS is now in the last leg of its existence and is expected to become redundant during 2024-28. India could not have been a part of the ISS in its heyday since it was excluded from such projects because of Delhi’s nuclear policy; ISRO and DRDO were taken out of the export control list only in 2011.

2.Scientific benefits of Microgravity experimentation:-

It offers the scientific community a range of subjects to conduct research in, from astronomy and meteorology to biology and medicine. Also, materials are one arena where India should make major investments. Breakthroughs in this field would have major commercial and strategic benefits.

3.A very small space station:-

ISS, which is a joint project of 16 countries (the US, Russia, Europe, Japan, etc), is a 400-tonne station, while the proposed Chinese space station (Tiangong programme) is likely to be a 80-tonne station. India is proposing a 20-tonne station to serve as a facility where astronauts can stay for 15 to 20 days. There is a need for ISRO to learn from the past experiences of missions to the Moon and Mars. These missions offered limited scope for scientific experimentation since India’s heavy satellite launch vehicle, GSLV, was not ready in time, and ISRO could not send heavier scientific payloads. But with India making a breakthrough with cryogenic technology, ISRO is expected to have better options by the end of next decade to carry a heavier payload to the low earth orbit.

4.Economically viable Project:-

Cost consideration could emerge as a major issue. So, India must involve the private sector in such projects. Recently, NASA has declared that the ISS would be open for commercial business and people could “purchase” a ticket to visit ISS. India could think of developing such projects under a public-private partnership model. Major projects like the space station are national projects. They may not offer any immediate scientific/technological benefits, but investments must be sustained. Private industrial houses within India should be encouraged to participate in such projects.

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