India wants to set up its own space station to carry out experiments in microgravity

India wants to set up its own space station to carry out experiments in microgravity
ISRO chairman, K SivanBCCL

  • ISRO plans to get its own space station off the ground in the next five to seven years.
  • Its latest mission will hinge on the success of its human spaceflight.
  • India’s own space station can allow microgravity experiments, paving the way for manufacturing innovation.

Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) human spaceflight mission is yet to take off the ground, and the agency already preparing for its next big project — setting up India’s own space station in Earth’s orbit.

India’s apex space agency did not divulge too many details about the project but said that they plan to get it off the ground in the next five to seven years.

“It will be a smaller module, which would be mainly used to carry out microgravity experiments,” said K. Sivan, ISRO Chairman. This is the next ambitious project of ISRO which already has a human spaceflight mission in the works, to be completed by 2022.

And, its latest mission will hinge on the success of human spaceflight. “The preparations are underway but we hope to take the project ahead only after the successful completion of Gaganyaan in 2022,” Sivan said.


In a microgravity environment

India’s own space station can allow astronauts and scientists from the country to carry out experiments, which can help make strides in manufacturing innovation.

Gravity governs all movement in the universe. It keeps the moon orbiting around Earth and the Earth around the Sun. In space, gravity does not disappear altogether. In fact, it’s what keeps space stations and satellites in orbit.

Microgravity, on the other hand, is free falling in space. Unlike the common belief that objects float because of the lack of gravity, objects actually float because they’re technically free falling at the same rate at their spacecraft. In the state of free fall, or microgravity, objects are said to weightless.

Scientists have been using microgravity on the International Space Station (ISS) to develop new materials and unearth previously unknown physical and chemical phenomena. It can pave away for new manufacturing techniques and materials.

The many benefits of microgravity

There are four benefits in carrying out experiments in a microgravity environment. One, is the absence of buoyancy and sedimentation which basically means that material can disperse evenly. On Earth, heavier substances sink and lighter ones float.

The second benefit is the absence of convection — there is no longer any difference in relative densities when matter is heated.

Hydrostatic pressure is also absent in microgravity, making it easier to work with soft material.

And, the most obvious benefit is the fact that liquids can float — without a container — which reduces the likelihood of contamination, increasing the likelihood of discovering new methods of manufacturing.

Over the next few years ISRO also has missions to Venus and the Sun planned. "Not just Sun and Moon, we hope to reach other planets, like Venus," said Sivan.

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