The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had already called out for private companies to help with technology development in the prestigious Gaganyaan manned mission project and would make these outreach efforts more robust in coming days, Isro Chairman Dr K Sivan told News18.com. The call for private sector participation had been made even before the announcement by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman two days back that the space sector will be opened up for private sector participation, as one among the slew of fiscal measures to improve the economy.
"We had already announced that opportunity for private people to carry out technology development in Gaganyaan. We will take it to other areas also. As per government direction, we want to allow private people to participate, allow them to do their space activity," Dr Sivan told news18. The manned mission or human space flight project that Isro is working on envisages sending astronauts on a home-built spacecraft to space on a five-to-seven-day mission by 2022, to coincide with 75 years of India's independence. This would be the first such attempt, and four IAF pilots have been sent to Russia in late-January for a year-long astronaut training programme.
The training programme, however, has been delayed because of a lockdown in Russia as well. "The training will resume once the lockdown is over. There is a likely delay, but we hope to be able to make up for lost time," Dr Sivan said, when asked if the lockdown will delay its plans on the overall mission itself.
Asked to what extent, private sector participation is envisaged with regard to either training equipment or other elements and components for the manned mission, Dr Sivan said that there is a broad invitation to the private sector to send proposals. These are yet to be collated and scrutinised. Apart from Gaganyaan, Isro is also planning a third moon mission -- Chandrayaan 3 -- next year, which will mostly replicate the unrealised goals of landing a lander and a rover on the moon that Chandrayaan 2 failed to do. Chandrayaan 2 had involved as many as 620 companies in either developing systems or components. "For Chandrayaan 3, we have to see and discuss how far we can do this. Definitely we will allow them (private companies) to do whatever possible," Dr. Sivan said.