BANGALORE, INDIA—India is a step closer to fulfilling its aspiration of putting a human in space by 2015. A blue-ribbon government panel gave a nod last week to the Indian Space Research Organization’s $3.1 billion crewed space mission. Final approval from the Indian cabinet is expected in the next few weeks.
By 2013-14, India intends to flight-test an unmanned space capsule, and a year later a crew of two or three astronauts would be launched into low Earth orbit on India’s Geo Synchronous Launch Vehicle. India would become the fourth country after Russia, the United States, and China to have a homegrown crewed space program.
Some critics say that India should focus on alleviating poverty rather than space travel. ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair told Science that India can well afford the venture. “Our economy is growing very fast, we have sufficient resources, and this will translate into merely something like 16% of the budget of the Indian space program. Putting an Indian in space using an Indian rocket launched from Indian soil is [my] dream."