As space is being flooded with ‘junk matter’, scientists from across the world will have to seriously think about the reusability of rocket parts and other remnants of satellites, said V R Lalithambika, chief of the Directorate of Human Space programme at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) .
She was speaking on the topic of ‘Reaching out from Earth: Challenges of space explorations’ during the 20th edition of the National Space Science Symposium, in Pune on Tuesday.
“The parts used for avionics and others are very expensive and if it is possible to bring back these parts and reuse them, the mission costs could reduce drastically. But, on many occasions, the cost of bringing back these is not economically viable. Countries will need to think about reusable parts, considering the cost-effectiveness,” said the senior ISRO scientist.
While ISRO has started planning its first manned mission, Gaganyaan, Lalithambika didn’t divulge too many details about it. But she elaborated on the many challenges in planning both manned and unmanned missions to space.
She said, “The challenges while planning a manned mission is far higher than those faced by unmanned ones. While the requirement is to send rockets which are light in weight, putting humans in space requires heavier rockets, adding to the existing challenges.”
A regenerative environment for food, water, oxygen, carbon-di-oxide and even human waste has to be developed from available information and research in manned mission, she said. “While there have not been any manned missions beyond 400 km outside Earth, the stay period too has not been beyond six months. In order to carry out long-term manned missions in space, the regenerative environment will hold the key, given that astronauts can take only a limited supply from Earth with them,” she explained.
Other major challenges before space-based missions are space transportation, awareness of celestial objects in the path of a rocket or satellite, design and communication systems, she said.