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NASA to Train an Indian Astronaut for ISS Mission


US space agency NASA will train an Indian astronaut for a mission to the International Space Station by the end of 2024.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. NASA’s Collaborative Endeavor with ISRO: Training an Indian Astronaut for ISS Mission
  2. India’s Endeavor: Bharatiya Antariksha Station and Lunar Aspirations
  3. What needs to be done?
  4. NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR): Advancing Earth Observation

NASA’s Collaborative Endeavor with ISRO: Training an Indian Astronaut for ISS Mission

Key Highlights:
  • Training Collaboration: NASA commits to assisting in the training of an Indian astronaut selected by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation).
  • ISS Mission Timeline: The trained astronaut is slated to embark on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) by the close of 2024.
  • Selection Process: ISRO will be responsible for the selection of the astronaut, with potential candidates likely to emerge from the pool of individuals who have undergone foundational space astronaut training for the Gaganyaan mission.
  • Mission Duration: The mission’s science objectives, spanning a two-week period, will be determined by India.
Joint Working Group and Collaborative Areas:
  • A joint working group has been established by both NASA and ISRO to explore collaborative ventures in various domains.
  • The areas of collaboration encompass radiation impact studies, micro-meteorite investigations, orbital debris shield studies, and aspects related to space health and medicine.
Future of the ISS:
  • NASA has outlined plans to decommission the International Space Station (ISS) by 2031.
  • The decommissioning involves guiding the ISS out of Earth’s orbit, causing it to plunge into the ocean at a location far removed from human settlements.
  • Preparations for a seamless transition involve the anticipation of commercial replacement facilities that would sustain a continual human presence in low-Earth orbit.

India’s Endeavor: Bharatiya Antariksha Station and Lunar Aspirations

Indian Space Station – Bharatiya Antariksha Station (BAS):
  • India’s planned space station is named the Bharatiya Antariksha Station.
  • It will be both constructed and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • The anticipated completion date for BAS is set for 2035.
  • Prime Minister Modi has urged ISRO to establish the Indian Space Station by 2035 and send an Indian to the moon by 2040.
Characteristics of BAS:
  • The Indian space station is projected to be smaller in scale compared to the International Space Station (ISS).
  • It will have a mass of 20 tonnes, distinguishing it from the ISS (450 tonnes) and the Chinese Tiangong Space Station (100 tonnes).
  • Its primary purpose will be to facilitate microgravity experiments.
  • The planned orbit for BAS is around 400 km above Earth’s surface.

What needs to be done?

Challenges and Technological Upgrades:
  • Constructing and maintaining a space station necessitates distinct technological expertise.
  • Areas such as life support systems, radiation protection, and ensuring long-term structural integrity pose challenges.
  • India needs substantial technological advancements to meet these demands.
International Collaborations and Funding:
  • To overcome challenges, India must explore international collaborations and potentially involve the private sector for funding.
Human Spaceflight Programs:
  • The development and operation of a space station require a well-trained team of astronauts.
  • Investment in human spaceflight programs, astronaut training, and essential infrastructure for crewed missions is crucial.

NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR): Advancing Earth Observation

Collaborative Effort:

  • NISAR, the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, is a joint venture between NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation).

Innovative Technology:

  • NISAR stands out as the first radar imaging satellite to utilize dual frequencies, marking a technological advancement in Earth observation capabilities.

Comprehensive Earth Survey:

  • The primary mission objective is to survey all of Earth’s land and ice-covered surfaces every 12 days, providing frequent and comprehensive data.
  • The mission duration is slated for three years.

Observing Complex Natural Processes:

  • NISAR aims to observe intricate natural processes on Earth, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides.

Functional Capabilities:

  • Positioned in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), NISAR will meticulously measure Earth’s dynamic surfaces, changing ecosystems, and ice masses.
  • Information gathering spans biomass, natural hazards, sea level rise, and groundwater.

Dual Radar Frequencies:

  • The satellite employs two distinct radar frequencies: L-band and S-band.
  • This dual-frequency approach allows for precise measurements of changes on Earth’s surface, achieving a level of precision down to less than a centimeter.

-Source: Indian Express

February 2024