India's space agency has plans to launch a manned space mission in the future, but a lot of work needs to be done before that to ensure such missions are failure-proof, a top scientist has said.
K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of ISRO, said here that the space agency will have to first master the rocket technology to launch heavy communications satellites before it can progress to a manned mission.
"Rockets that carry humans cannot have a failure rate of more than two per thousand flights," he said after the successful launch of latest communications satellite GSAT-12 from the space port.
"Further what we have now (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) is only an unmanned rocket where the reliability should be 99 percent," Radhakrishnan said.
"We are trying to understand the intricacies of manned space mission. ISRO has to work on areas like thermal protection, life support and crew escape systems."
"We had a long discussion on manned space mission. The initial plan was to put two humans in space for seven days," he added.
According to him the first mission is to build a reliable GSLV rocket for launching heavy satellites.
He said ISRO is expected to be ready with a GSLV rocket to be powered by its own cryogenic engine next year.
Queried about the second space capsule recovery experiment (SRE-2), P.S. Veeraraghavan the director at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, said the capsule is in the final stages of integration and the mission will be sometime next year.
Meanwhile, ISRO will follow a multi pronged approach to augment its transponder capacity - automatic receivers and transmitters for communication and broadcast of signals, a top official said.
"We can lease transponders from other satellite operators and launch our own satellites. ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) currently has 175 transponders whereas the demand is for 200 more transponders," Radhakrishnan said.
He said ISRO will launch a three-tonne communication satellite GSAT-10 with 30 transponders using Ariane rocket.
"We need few satellites like that. Two of the existing communications satellites -- Insat 2E and Insat-3C -- are nearing their end," he added.
Queried about the efficacy of using the other rocket -Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in launching communication satellites - like GSAT-12- he said: "GSLV rocket is better for such missions. When GSLV Mark III variant under development will be much more efficient."
Officials said after the two successive failures of GSLV rockets last year the space agency has understood the failure cause.
Speaking about satellite GSAT-12 launch, T.K. Alex, director of ISRO Satellite Centre, said the initial operations went off smoothly.
"The solar panels were deployed and are generating power. The satellite orbit will be raised from 22,020 km apogee (farthest point from the earth) to 36,000 km apogee tomorrow and day after. All the 12 transponders in the satellite will be tested by the end of this month," Alex said.
He said there will be sufficient fuel left in GSAT-12 after raising its orbit to 36,000 km apogee so that it can be in operation for seven years.