India’s ISRO Budget Cuts May Hamper Human Spaceflight Program

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Despite a Year Filled with Triumphs and Near Triumphs, ISRO Budget Cuts May Stall a New Human Spaceflight Program.

All evidence points to the idea that Inda really, really wants to be a global power. And it’s certainly within the country’s grasp. Their economy is the fastest growing in the world and puts them at fifth on the list of countries with the highest GDPs across the globe. They have the second largest population and potential workforce in the world, and a space program that accomplished some truly amazing things on a shoestring budget last year. Even though their ultimate goal of landing Chandrayaan 2’s Vikram lander didn’t go so smoothly, most Indian citizens seem to be incredibly proud of their country’s growing space program. However, the future of that program may be in doubt as a new round of ISRO budget cuts takes its toll. 

After the Vikram lander crash, one might think the ISRO would focus its efforts on successfully landing a craft first. However, they’ve set their eyes on an even bigger prize: Human spaceflight. 

The ISRO’s human spaceflight program, called Gaganyaan, received a massive budgetary setback this week. Indian parliamentary officials only authorized about 30% of the requested budget for the program. Per an article in the Times of India, ISRO officials say they will work around the low budget. However, they didn’t offer details at the time. 

Indeed, those officials will need to think cleverly if they’re to accomplish the goals laid out for the Gaganyaan mission. Initial plans had the first uncrewed test flight of the mission vehicle scheduled for the end of this year. A second test was set to take place in July of next year, with the first Indian human spaceflight lifting off by the end of 2021.

Other Considerations

It’s true. Receiving 30% of requested funds may seem like a death knell for the ISRO human spaceflight program. However, the reality is, the nearly $640 million allocated for the project makes up a third of the ISRO budget. 

If and when India finally does send humans into space, it will be a landmark achievement.  They’ll follow Russia, the United States, and China as the fourth country to do so. Again, the exact impact of these ISRO budget cuts on Gaganyaan is unknown. However, the ISRO estimates that in order to achieve human spaceflight by August 15th, 2022, it will take roughly $1.5 billion. August 15th is significant because it is India’s Independence Day.

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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