NASA to train an Indian astronaut for ISS mission

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What’s in today’s article?

  • Indian Space Station
  • NISAR Satellite
  • News Summary

Why in news?

  • US space agency NASA will train an Indian astronaut for a mission to the International Space Station by the end of 2024.
  • This was revealed by the organisation’s administrator Bill Nelson during his Delhi visit.
  • He also said another major programme emerging from India-US collaboration would be the NISAR satellite, which is to be launched in the first quarter of 2024.

Indian Space Station

  • About
    • India's planned space station is called the Bharatiya Antariksha Station.
    • It will be built by India and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
    • The station is expected to be completed by 2035.
      • Recently, PM Modi called on ISRO scientists to set up an Indian Space Station by 2035 and send an Indian to the moon by 2040.
  • Features
    • The Indian space station will be smaller than International Space Station (ISS).
    • It will have a mass of 20 tonnes (ISS - 450 tonnes and Chinese Tiangong Space Station - 100 tonnes) and will be used for microgravity experiments.
    • It will orbit Earth at an altitude of around 400km.
  • What needs to be done?
    • Develop new technologies
      • India has shown its prowess in satellite development, but constructing and maintaining a space station requires a completely different set of skills.
      • It involves life support systems, radiation protection, and long-term structural integrity.
      • India will need to significantly upgrade its technological capabilities to meet these demands.
  • Increase the budget
    • India will have to seek international collaborations and explore private-sector involvement to ensure adequate funding.
  • Gain expertise in human spaceflights
    • To build and operate a space station, a well-trained team of astronauts is indispensable.
    • India must invest in human spaceflight programs, astronaut training, and the development of necessary infrastructure for crewed missions.

NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR)

  • About
    • NISAR, or NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, is a joint project between NASA and ISRO.
    • When it is launched, NISAR will be the first radar imaging satellite to use dual frequencies.
    • The mission will survey all of Earth's land and ice-covered surfaces every 12 days. It has a three-year duration.
  • Aim
    • The main aim of the NISAR satellite is to observe the most complex natural processes of the planet, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, as well as earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides.
  • Functions
    • NISAR is a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) observatory that will measure Earth's changing ecosystems, dynamic surfaces, and ice masses.
    • It will also gather information related to biomass, natural hazards, sea level rise, and groundwater.
  • Working
    • NISAR will use two distinct radar frequencies: L-band and S-band.
    • This will enable it to measure changes on Earth's surface with precision, down to less than a centimeter.

News Summary: NASA to train an Indian astronaut for ISS mission

Key highlights

  • NASA will help train an Indian astronaut
    • That astronaut will fly to the International Space Station at the end of 2024.
    • The astronaut would be selected by ISRO.
    • The selection will likely be from among the four persons who have undergone basic space astronaut training in preparation for the Gaganyaan mission.
    • The science objectives for the two-week long mission will be decided by India.
  • Joint working group set up
    • Both NASA and ISRO have set up a joint working group to explore collaborating on radiation impact studies, micro meteorite and orbital debris shield studies, space health and medicine aspects.
  • Plan to decommission the International Space Station (ISS)
    • NASA plans to decommission the ISS by 2031.
      • The ISS will be removed from its orbit around Earth and plunged into the ocean at a point farthest from human civilization.
    • Commercial replacement facilities are expected to step in before that time, allowing NASA to maintain a constant human presence in low-Earth orbit.

Q1) What is Low Earth Orbit (LEO)?

Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is a near-circular orbit around Earth that is relatively close to its surface. LEO is usually considered to be between 160 and 1,600 km (about 100 and 1,000 miles) above Earth. LEO orbits have a period of 128 minutes or less, making at least 11.25 orbits per day. 

Q2) What is National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)?

NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is a U.S. government agency that is responsible for science and technology related to air and space.

Source: NASA to train an Indian astronaut for ISS mission | NISAR | India Today | Hindustan Times