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Saturday, September 29, 2007

India to develop own technology for space travel

India will develop its own technology to launch an astronaut into space rather than rely on outside support, the head of the country's space agency said Thursday.

India's space programme suffered in the past from sanctions imposed by the West, barring access to space material and technology transfers, after the country tested nuclear weapons in 1974 and in 1998.

"We have learned the hard way that we should have indigenous capability," said G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, in this southern city which is hosting a global conerfence on space technology.

"Only then will anyone respect you," Nair told a news conference on the penultimate day of the five-day event.

"In manned missions also that's the approach we will adopt."

India plans to launch a lunar probe in March or April next year and ISRO is firming up a proposal to try to send an astronaut to the moon at a date to be decided.

The country's launch rockets are not powerful enough to send a man from an earth orbit to the moon, requiring ISRO to almost double its launch capability, said Nair.

"If we have cooperation with the Russians or the Americans, it will speed up the process," said Nair. "But I am not sure how that will emerge because of the various technology control regimes that exist all around the globe."

Russia has a space tourism programme under which a return voyage and a week-long stay in space costs 20 million dollars, the official said.

"But there has to be an objective," he added. "Our thrust will be to develop the technology and use Indian launch vehicles to access space. Our capability to have human access to space is a must in the long-run and we will take action in this regard."

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