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SOURCE: LIVE MINT

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Friday said it has missed the January-February launch window for the second moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, which is now expected to be carried out around March-April. The space agency had earlier missed two launch windows in 2017 and 2018 for the ambitious programme.

“Because we could not complete a few tests, we are looking at March-April,” Isro chairman Dr K. Sivan said in Bengaluru. The mission could be carried out by April end and, if this one is also missed, by June. The space agency is getting busier with every successful programme. It conducted 16 missions last year and is planning 32 this year. The most ambitious will be its mission to put a human in space.

The agency aims to complete two unmanned missions —in December 2020 and July 2021—before it can actually put a human in space, scheduled for December 2021, the chairman said.

This would put the country in an elite group of nations to have achieved this feat, Sivan said .

Isro has opened a Human Spaceflight Centre to help it prepare for the manned mission. With a budget of ?10,000 crore, Isro aims to be able to send three humans into space for a duration of seven days, but the specific number for its first Gaganyaan is yet to be finalized. Gaganyaan mission has been given a priority, he said.

Isro will select the astronauts along with the Indian Air Force (IAF) and other premier agencies.

The astronauts will initially be trained at its human sciences centre and are likely to travel to Russia for advanced training.

Isro plans to set up ground stations in countries such as Russia and Japan as well for other programmes, Sivan said.

Other major plans for 2019 include the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, one of the smallest launches for Isro.

Sivan said this will have a payload of only 500kg, will integrate within 72 hours, and requires only six people to be part of the mission, compared with its other big programmes, which need more personnel. The cost of these missions would be around ?30 crore, he said.

The space agency will also launch its second reusable launch vehicle later this year, which could help reduce costs further.

Isro is also working on providing in-flight call services, which was sought by the telecom department, Sivan said.

The agency already has GSAT-29, GSAT-11 and GSAT-20, which will help complete the Digital India programme by enhancing internet speeds that could also be used to provide in-flight calls, he said.

Sivan also said Isro TV would be up and running in three or four months.

The space agency is also working on launching Aditya-L1, a mission to study the Sun’s atmosphere by 2020, Sivan said. It also aims to partner with organizations such as Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and private sector firm Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T) to make Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLVs).

The HAL and L&T-led consortium, he said, will start production of PSLV, that has been the work horse of India’s string of successful space missions.