ISRO Chief (K. Sivan) has announced that India will launch its own space station in the next 7-8 years. ISRO has prepared a roadmap for India’s future space programmes and has developed a blueprint for having its own space station. This is very important considering India’s current growth in space technology. This space station is going to be very small. It will be a small module that will be used for carrying out scientific research on the environment. The weight of the Indian space station is likely to be 20 tonnes. This spacecraft will capable of supporting crews, design to remain in space for an extended period of time and for other spacecraft to dock. Currently, there is only one fully operational space station in the Earth’s lower orbit that is International Space Station (ISS) and astronauts conduct different experiments in it.
Let us tell you that space station is an artificial structure or man-made station in space placed in an orbit to revolve around the Earth. It has pressurised enclosure, power supplies and environmental system required to support human habitation for extended periods. It is also called the orbital space station. Spacecraft can serve as a base of various activities in the space. Depending on its configuration, it can be used for various activities such as observations of the Sun and other astronomical objects, study of Earth’s resources and environment, military reconnaissance. Moreover, it includes long-term investigations of the behaviour of materials and biological systems—including human physiology and biochemistry—in a state of weightlessness or microgravity.
You know larger space stations are required to send in modules and assembled in orbit, but small space stations are launched fully assembled. A space station is launched vacant to make the most efficient use of its carrier vehicle’s capacity. Its crew member and sometimes additional equipment are sent up in separate vehicles. Therefore, a space station’s operation requires a transportation system to ferry crews and other necessary stuff. Since 1971, 11 space stations have been launched into a low orbit of the Earth for varying lengths of time. In chronological order, they are Salyut 1, Skylab, Salyut- 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, Mir, the International Space Station, and Tiangong 1 and 2.
International Space Station (ISS)
As of 2020, International Space Stations is the only operating space station (operating and permanently inhabited). The International Space Station is the largest spacecraft ever built and is placed in Earth’s lower orbit. The ISS includes the contribution from 15 nations. The international space station is the world’s largest international cooperative programme in science and technology. NASA (United Nations), ROSCOMOS (Russia), ESA, CSA (Canada), JAXA (Japan) are the major partners of the space station. The first piece of ISS was launched by Russia on 20th November 1998. It took two years to completely ready for the people. Since 2 November 2000, astronauts are working in this station. It uses large panels of solar cells and banks of storage batteries as their source of electrical power. Its weight is approximately 391,000 kilograms. In the space station, around six astronauts can last up to six months.
The space station flies at an average altitude of approximately 248 miles (Approx. 400 km) above the Earth. It completes the revolution around the globe every 90 minutes at a speed of about 17,500 mph (28,000 km/h). It is quite interesting to know that in one day this spacecraft travels about the distance it would take to go from Earth to the moon and back. Space Station can be viewed from the Earth with naked eyes, it looks like planet Venus in brightness and appears like a bright moving light across the night sky. It can easily be seen from Earth without the use of a telescope.
Many scientists have been sent up in the space station for research and experiments. You might know that 230 people from 18 countries have visited the International Space Station till now. India’s Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams have also done research in this. on 2 September 2017, Peggy Whitson has set the record for spending most of the time in space and work around 665 days.
Let me tell you one more interesting facts that the urine of astronauts and laboratory animals is filtered and then goes back to the station’s drilling water supply to reduce the water shortage. The oxygen at this station comes through the process of electrolysis. You know when an astronaut leaves the station at any time and moves in space, then it is called a spacewalk. And, for the first time on 18 March 1965, the space-walk was done by Russian astronaut Alexei Leonov.
India’s Plan to Have its Own Space Station
Sivan (ISRO Chief) has announced an ambitious project that India is planning to have its own space station which will enable the agency to send more humans to space. It will be constructed after the completion of “Gaganyaan” human space mission successfully. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is preparing to conduct a Space Docking Experiments (Spadex) which is an essential building-block process for setting up the country’s own space station and sending humans to that station. Space docking is a technology that allows transferring humans from one spacecraft to another.
This Space Station will have the Following Characteristics:
(a) It will be placed in low Earth orbit at an altitude of 400 kilometres from Earth.
(b) It would serve as a facility where Astronauts can stay for 15-20 days.
(c) It will be used to conduct microgravity experiments in space in 5 to 7 years.
(d) It would be much smaller than the existing International Space Station (ISS). Indian Station would have a payload of 20 tonnes while ISS weighs 420 tonnes.
(e) It would be available for other countries to do collaborative research.
Having Own Space Station Will Benefit India’s Space Program in the following manner.
(a) It will help India to keep leadership in the space arena as India will become the fourth country, after Russia, the US, and China, to set up a space station.
(b) It will help to accelerate the development of reusable rockets, in-orbit docking systems and manned missions.
(c) It will create new opportunities for other spacecraft to dock as well as allowing for cross-collaboration experiments.
(d) China’s space station is expected to outlast the ageing International Space Station and Indian Space station will act as a backup plan before a new space station comes up. This will increase the global reputation of Indian research.
(e) By having its own space station, India will try to have better co-operation with foreign scientists, who can work together aboard the space station. This will benefit Indian scientists in the long run.
(f) It will help in studying the effects of long-term space flight on the human body.
Thus, having an own space station will boost India’s outer space research program enormously on the longer run. It will help India to keep leadership in the space arena.
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