The Indian manned spacecraft temporary named as Orbital Vehicle intend to be the basis of indigenous Indian human spaceflight program. The capsule will be designed to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be equipped with a rendezvous and docking capability. In its maiden manned mission, ISRO's largely autonomous 3-ton capsule will orbit the Earth at 248 miles (400 km) in altitude for up to seven days with a two-person crew on board. The crew vehicle would launch atop of ISRO's GSLV Mk II, currently under development. The GSLV Mk II features an indigenously developed cryogenic upper-stage engine.
The development of the Orbital Vehicle began in 2006. The plan was to design a simple spacecraft of the Mercury-class with an endurance of about a week in space. It was designed to carry two astronauts and to land in water upon re-entry. The design was finalized by March, 2008 and was submitted to the Government of India for funding. The funding for the Indian Human Spaceflight program was sanctioned in February, 2009. The first unmanned flight of the Orbital Vehicle is expected to be in 2013.
ISRO based the Orbital Vehicle on the design of the SRE. ISRO had launched and recovered the 550-kg Space Recovery Capsule in January 2007. The full-scale manned OV spaceship was said to be derived from this, although ISRO's published concept showed a more elongated conical shape than the SRE.
The OV is fully autonomous three-ton capsuled spacecraft to carry a 3 member crew to orbit and safe return to the Earth after a mission duration of few orbits to two days.
The space capsule will have life control and environment control systems. It will be equipped with emergency mission abort and emergency escape that can be done at the first stage and second stage of the rocket. The illustration of the spacecraft showed a main engine and smaller orientation engines arranged in a light package around the base of the capsule, indicating an earth-orbit maneuvering capability was to be included. The nose of the original version of the OV was free for a docking mechanism, but primary entry was evidently through a side hatch secured by explosive bolts.
The Orbital Vehicle is slated to be launched on the GSLV Mk II launcher. .
About 16 minutes after liftoff from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota, the rocket will inject the OV into an orbit 300-400 km from the Earth. The capsule would return for a splashdown in the Bay of Bengal.
While many technological elements to put together a manned flight are already available, ISRO would need to develop many new and novel technologies to ensure a foolproof life-support system, safety, reliability and an escape system for the crew. And in order to perfect the reentry techniques considered crucial for a manned flight, ISRO is planning to carry out three more flights of Space Recovery Capsules (SRE) and few unmanned flights of the OV spaceship.
Funding and Infrastructure
Development of a fully autonomous orbital vehicle to carry a two-member crew into a low Earth orbit has already began. ISRO sources said the flight is likely to be in 2015. The government has allocated Rs. 50 crore (US$10 million) for pre-project initiatives for 2007 through 2008. A manned mission into space would require about Rs. 12,400 crore (US$3 billion) and a period of seven years. The Planning Commission estimates that a budget of Rs. 5000 crore (US$1 billion) is required for initial work of the manned mission during the eleventh five-year plan (2007-12). The project report prepared by ISRO has been cleared by the space commission. In February, 2009 the Government of India has given the green signal for the Manned Space flight Program due to launch in 2015. "Planning Commission Okays ISRO Manned Space Flight Program". http://www.indianexpress.com/news/plan-panel-okays-isro-manned-space-flight/426945/=.
MC Dathan, director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), stated that ISRO will set up a full-fledged training facility in Bangalore for training gaganauts. ISRO is also planning to build a third launch pad at Sriharkota for manned missions with extra facilities like entry into the crew capsule and an escape chute.
In spring 2009 the full-scale mock-up of crew capsule of OV was built and delivered to Satish Dhawan Space Centre for training of gaganauts. 
A cooperative agreement was sealed in an accord signed on Dec 5, 2008 by ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair and Roskosmos Director-General Anatoly Perminov during a state visit to India by Russian President Dimitri Medvedev. Under the accord, an Indian cosmonaut will fly aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2013 ahead of ISRO's planned 2015 mission. Roskosmos will also help in crew selection and training and in construction of ISRO's orbiter vehicle.
ISRO's human spaceflight program will benefit from assistance provided by the Russian Federal Space Agency. Russia and India have a long history of space-related collaboration. In 1984, Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian in space, flying to the then-Soviet Union's Salyut-7 space station aboard a Soyuz capsule.
The ISRO OV is scheduled to be launched with astronauts into space around 2015. As a precursor to indigenous manned spaceflights, an Indian cosmonaut will fly aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2013.
Published - July 2009
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