NEW DELHI – India plans to establish its own “very small” space station in the next decade as the country gears up for a first manned mission beyond Earth.
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) chief K. Sivan said Thursday that the ambitious project would follow a successful launch of a manned space flight scheduled by 2022.
“Our space station is going to be very small … useful to carry out experiments,” Sivan told reporters in New Delhi. “We are not having a big plan of sending humans on tourism and other things.”
A space station is capable of hosting crew members for years on end and provides facilities for experiments and support vehicles to dock.
India’s first manned space mission — named Gaganyaan — is due to take place by 2022, in time to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the country’s independence from Britain.
It will have two or three astronauts on a maximum seven-day mission.
The Indian announcement comes a day after the country unveiled an unmanned moon lander expected to be launched on July 15 for a touchdown on the lunar surface around Sept. 6.
India sent its first lunar mission to space in 2008, playing a crucial role in the discovery of water molecules on the moon.
The country has made giant strides on its space journey in recent years and has been a pioneer in low-cost technology.
It sent a mission to Mars in 2014 for just $74 million — a fraction of the $671 million spent by the U.S. space agency NASA.
The Indian space organization also plans to send a mission to study the sun in 2020, and to Venus by 2023.