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Come 2030, and Indians who can afford it will be able to don space suits, sit in a module atop a rocket and take a trip to space -- for 6 crore.
Senior officials of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said that work around the government’s space tourism initiative is gaining momentum and India will price the space tickets at “competitive prices” in the global market.
Isro chairman, S Somnath said that the per-ticket cost for a trip to space is likely to be around 6 crore—in the range at which other existing global players are placing their space trips currently.
“Work is in progress around India’s very own space tourism module, which is both safe and reusable. The per ticket price is likely to be around 6 crores. People who take the trip will also be able to call themselves astronauts,” Somnath said.
While Somnath did not specify whether the space tourism would be sub-orbital (reaching an altitude of 100 km, the edge of space) or orbital (400 km), the cost suggests it will be the former. Typically, on such trips, tourists spend around 15 minutes at the edge of space, experiencing a few minutes in a low gravity environment, before descending. The flights are conducted through reusable rockets, which makes the economics viable for the agencies offering the flight.
Union minister of state (independent charge) science and technology, atomic energy and space, Dr Jitendra Singh said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha in February that Isro has already started carrying out feasibility studies for India’s sub-orbital space tourism mission on-board a liquid propellant stage booster.
“Through Gaganyaan—India’s maiden human spaceflight programme—Isro is engaged in development of various technologies, which are essential building blocks for human space missions,” Singh said.
Space tourism is not new. Aerospace engineer and financial analyst Dennis Tito, was 60 in 2001 when he became the first paying space tourist. He had paid $20 million to Russia to fly aboard a Soyuz spacecraft and spend a week aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Since then, several companies including Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, have started offering excursions into space, with tickets on sub-orbital space flights starting from around $450,000.
Scientists from Isro said that the space tourism project of the government will be planned in partnership with private firms, who will be partnering with the space body via its commercial hand Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), in developing the module.
The government created IN-SPACe as the single window agency to promote, enable, authorise and supervise non-government entities in space sector in India.
The initial space tourism plan presented by Isro to the government said that the focus will on developing technologies to ensure a robust escape system, on-demand launch, recovery, re-use , and retro-propulsion landing.
“Along with the Gaganyaan mission, we are also gaining knowledge from our Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), which is one of the most challenging endeavours by Isro. Since we are bringing space experience to the common people, we have to ensure that these trips are extremely safe and our technologies pass safety clearances,” Somnath said.
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