NASA to train an Indian astronaut for ISS mission
Nov. 29, 2023

Why in news?

  • US space agency NASA will train an Indian astronaut for a mission to the International Space Station by the end of 2024.
  • This was revealed by the organisation’s administrator Bill Nelson during his Delhi visit.
  • He also said another major programme emerging from India-US collaboration would be the NISAR satellite, which is to be launched in the first quarter of 2024.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Indian Space Station
  • NISAR Satellite
  • News Summary

Indian Space Station

  • About
    • India's planned space station is called the Bharatiya Antariksha Station.
    • It will be built by India and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
    • The station is expected to be completed by 2035.
      • Recently, PM Modi called on ISRO scientists to set up an Indian Space Station by 2035 and send an Indian to the moon by 2040.
  • Features
    • The Indian space station will be smaller than International Space Station (ISS).
    • It will have a mass of 20 tonnes (ISS - 450 tonnes and Chinese Tiangong Space Station - 100 tonnes) and will be used for microgravity experiments.
    • It will orbit Earth at an altitude of around 400km.
  • What needs to be done?
    • Develop new technologies
      • India has shown its prowess in satellite development, but constructing and maintaining a space station requires a completely different set of skills.
      • It involves life support systems, radiation protection, and long-term structural integrity.
      • India will need to significantly upgrade its technological capabilities to meet these demands.
  • Increase the budget
    • India will have to seek international collaborations and explore private-sector involvement to ensure adequate funding.
  • Gain expertise in human spaceflights
    • To build and operate a space station, a well-trained team of astronauts is indispensable.
    • India must invest in human spaceflight programs, astronaut training, and the development of necessary infrastructure for crewed missions.

NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR)

  • About
    • NISAR, or NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, is a joint project between NASA and ISRO.
    • When it is launched, NISAR will be the first radar imaging satellite to use dual frequencies.
    • The mission will survey all of Earth's land and ice-covered surfaces every 12 days. It has a three-year duration.
  • Aim
    • The main aim of the NISAR satellite is to observe the most complex natural processes of the planet, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, as well as earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides.
  • Functions
    • NISAR is a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) observatory that will measure Earth's changing ecosystems, dynamic surfaces, and ice masses.
    • It will also gather information related to biomass, natural hazards, sea level rise, and groundwater.
  • Working
    • NISAR will use two distinct radar frequencies: L-band and S-band.
    • This will enable it to measure changes on Earth's surface with precision, down to less than a centimeter.

News Summary: NASA to train an Indian astronaut for ISS mission

Key highlights

  • NASA will help train an Indian astronaut
    • That astronaut will fly to the International Space Station at the end of 2024.
    • The astronaut would be selected by ISRO.
    • The selection will likely be from among the four persons who have undergone basic space astronaut training in preparation for the Gaganyaan mission.
    • The science objectives for the two-week long mission will be decided by India.
  • Joint working group set up
    • Both NASA and ISRO have set up a joint working group to explore collaborating on radiation impact studies, micro meteorite and orbital debris shield studies, space health and medicine aspects.
  • Plan to decommission the International Space Station (ISS)
    • NASA plans to decommission the ISS by 2031.
      • The ISS will be removed from its orbit around Earth and plunged into the ocean at a point farthest from human civilization.
    • Commercial replacement facilities are expected to step in before that time, allowing NASA to maintain a constant human presence in low-Earth orbit.