Nair: India to Send Humans to Moon by 2020

It looks like the moon could be quite crowded in the year 2020. Not only is NASA aiming to send astronauts back to Earth’s closest celestial neighbor by that year, India is making similar plans.

“We plan to send humans to the moon by the year 2020”, ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair said during an appearance at the Techkriti technical festival in Kanpur.

Nair also discussed the results of the Chandrayaan I, a lunar orbiter that also sent a probe to the surface. He said Chandrayaan II is set for launch in 2012. India also plans to make its first human spaceflight three years later.

The Times of India also reports that the success of India’s first lunar probe is inspiring aerospace students:

When Chandrayaan-I soared into space last October, so did the dreams of many young and aspiring IITians keen on a career with the Indian
Space Research Organisation (Isro). Says a professor from IIT-Bombay’s aerospace engineering department, “Ever since Chandrayaan lifted off, space has become the magic word among students. They aspire to become rocket scientists and hope to play a role in taking India beyond the moon some day.”

The fact that Isro has planned a manned mission to the low earth orbit (Leo, 2000 km above earth) in 2014, a mission to Mars around 2020 and another to the moon is a great source of excitement, he adds.

Two fourth year BTech aerospace students, Shashank Tamaskar and Kartavya Neema, are already doing a research project on interplanetary flight. Says Shashank, “Inspired by Chandrayaan-I, I am doing a study on a satellite’s flight from Leo to the moon.” He started work on the project in August 2008, when Chandrayaan was being primed for its historic launch, and hopes to complete it in a year.