Encyclopedia Astronautica
Orbital Vehicle



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Orbital Vehicle
ISRO concept of 2008
Credit: ISRO
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New Generation
Manned Spacecraft
Credit: © Mark Wade ynewsasx.jpg
Indian manned spacecraft. Study 2015. Design of an Indian manned spacecraft began in October 2006. Dependent on a full funding decision at the end of 2008, planned first flight of the two-man capsule was 2015.

An initial funding of $23 million was provided for 2007-2008 for concept work on the capsule, spacesuits, and mission simulation. Full funding of $2.2 billion would have to be approved by the end of 2008 in order to make the 2015 operational date. Estimates in 2006, perhaps more realistic, had been that the program would cost $4.3 billion and take eight years.

ISRO had launched and recovered the 550-kg Space Recovery Capsule in January 2007. The full-scale manned capsule was said to be derived from this, although ISRO's published concept showed a more elongated conical shape than the SRE. The launch vehicle would be a version of India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark 2, with a structurally-strengthened upper stage to accommodate the heavier low-earth-orbit manned capsule as opposed to the lighter standard geosynchronous-transfer-orbit satellite payload.

A crew of two to three was mentioned. Although ISS orbital capability of the GSLV Mark 2 was 4.6 metric tons, a spacecraft mass of 2.5 to 3.0 metric tons was mentioned - perhaps this was the capsule only. The illustration showed a main engine and smaller orientation engines arranged in a light package around the base of the capsule, indicating an earth-orbit maneuvering capability was to be included. The nose was free for a docking mechanism, but primary entry was evidently through a side hatch secured by explosive bolts.

India would receive assistance in crew selection and training from Russia under an agreement signed between the two countries in March 2008. One option being studied would be flight of an Indian astronaut aboard a Soyuz capsule by 2012 in preparation for the Indian mission.

India's schedule was ambitious under any circumstances, and even if funding materialized, its history of performance on other indigenous aerospace programs made it unlikely that the capsule would fly before 2020. Earliest accounts had mentioned a manned flight to the moon. This would be possible at the low end of the indicated payload range, 2500 kg, within the payload capability of an improved GSLV, and perhaps account for the lightweight capsule plus modest propulsion package shown in the ISRO illustration.

Crew Size: 3.

Gross mass: 4,500 kg (9,900 lb).
Height: 3.30 m (10.80 ft).
Diameter: 2.00 m (6.50 ft).

More... - Chronology...


Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Proton-K Russian orbital launch vehicle. Development of a three-stage version of the UR-500 was authorised in the decree of 3 August 1964. Decrees of 12 October and 11 November 1964 authorised development of the Almaz manned military space station and the manned circumlunar spacecraft LK-1 as payloads for the UR-500K. Remarkably, due to continuing failures, the 8K82K did not satisfactorily complete its state trials until its 61st launch (Salyut 6 / serial number 29501 / 29 September 1977). Thereafter it reached a level of launch reliability comparable to that of other world launch vehicles. More...


Associated Countries
See also
  • New Generation Crewed The world is facing a minimum five year period, beginning in 2011, when the venerable Russian Soyuz spacecraft will provide the only means of ferrying crews to the International Space Station. America's new Orion spacecraft, beset by delays, is unlikely to be arriving at the ISS until 2018 at the earliest - which was NASA's original date for retirement of the ISS. China has its slow-motion Shenzhou manned program, but so far they have shown no interest in involvement in the ISS program, or in sharing their hard-won independent space technology with outsiders. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • GSLV Indian mixed-propulsion orbital launch vehicle for geosynchronous satellites using a Lox/LH2 upper stage developed from Russian technology. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • ISRO Indian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Indian Space Research Organization, India. More...

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