India plans manned space mission by 2015

A top scientist said Thursday that India planned a manned space mission by 2015, using indigenous systems and technology.

That will be preceded by an unmanned moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, in April 2008, G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of state-run Indian Space Research Organization, told reporters.

However, there was no immediate plan to send a manned mission to the moon as that required a very powerful rocket system, Nair said on the sidelines of an international astronautical conference being held in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.

"We are trying to develop the technologies which are required for sending a man to space ... If everything goes all right we will be able to have a manned mission wherein an astronaut will be orbiting the earth within eight years," he said.

India would like to follow the policy of developing indigenous technology rather than ride piggy back on Russian or U.S. modules, he said.

Since 1994, India's space program has launched a number of Indian-made satellites. It's also been able to launch nine successful space flights consecutively.

India has become the fifth country after the United States, Russia, China and France to enter the commercial satellite launch market.

On Thursday, Nair also said India with its geostationary launch vehicle rocket had the basic technical ability to send a spacecraft to Mars and it could undertake such a mission if there were good scientific objectives.

"The planned unmanned moon mission in April next year will cost 3.8 billion rupees (US$97 million,EUR68.66 million)," he said.

Nair said the ISRO's collaboration with NASA has increased considerably in the past two years.

The scientific community in the United States and India will share data obtained during the unmanned moon mission, he said.

India's Space Research Organization also has worked with NASA in the preparation of the latter's vision documents on the exploration of moon and other planets, he said.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova