Wake Up India! For the past one year or so all we have heard is Isro chairman, K.Radhakrishnan, announcing at various forums that India is making preparations for launching a manned space flight around 2015. Nothing has happened beyond this. And, certainly Isro cannot be blamed for the sorry state of affairs, but the government of India which is delaying the process of giving the formal green signal for embarking on a manned space flight.
The total cost of the Indian human space flight programme is around Rs 14,300 crores, and the funding till now has been pathetic triggering speculation among space scientists that the government is not enthusiastic about the project. Perhaps, the government has not realised the scientific, geopolitical and technological significance of a major space power like India launching a man into space from its own soil----Sriharikota.
On its part, ``Beyond Moon and Mars,'' feels that Isro should provide a clear road map regarding its manned space mission programme. It should specify whether there will be one or two flights, would it be a technological demonstration or will it have scientific goals as well and above all will it lead to an ultimate landing of an Indian on moon and Mars.
In contrast see the scenario in Iran. In August 2010, Iranian President, Ahmadinejad, announced that Iran's first manned astronaut will be flown to space by 2017. And how? By Iran's own space shuttle! This historic flight is slated for lift off sometime between 2017 and 2021. If this happens, then Iran will be the fourth nation to join the exclusive manned spaceflight club after Russia, the US and China.
Unlike in India, after the President's announcement in August, the country has been moving in full steam in trying to implement this important project. The Iranian communication and IT minister, Reza Taqipour, has been quoted as saying in the Mehr news agency that the country is on the right track to launch its first manned space mission after completing the study phase.
He said: ``The initial steps for the plan have been taken and the study phase on the definition of sub systems, projects, costs have been conducted which will be submitted to the Supreme Council Of Space. In addition, according to him, studies were also underway at different Iranian universities with regards to the astronauts' training programme. Last year the country's aerospace organisation carried out a 12-year project to send an astronaut into space by 2021. It may be recalled that Iran launched its first indigenouis satellite, Omid, in 2009.
In 2005, Iran declared that in order to reach her ambitious goal of ranking among the top 10 space-faring nations, the government would allocate 500 million dollars over the next five years. The nation considers manned space programme a significant aspect in its technological race and is leaving no stone unturned in its human spaceflight mission, moving faster than the 15-year duration which China took.
What is the message? Wake up India. Or get ready to be overtaken by Iran in the human spaceflight mission.