Former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) prof U R Rao on Monday said space missions need to focus on solving the country’s energy crisis. He also stressed on the need to bring down the costs involved in space technology.
Addressing students at the inauguration of INSPIRE Internship Science Camp organised by Bangalore University, Prof Rao said space missions could be used to harness solar energy in a cost-effective manner.
“We can get energy if we can put a large array in space. We can also have a geostationary satellite that can harness solar energy and convert it,” Rao suggested.
“Solar energy in its current form is a myth. Producing one MW of solar power would cost `20-25 crore as against `4 crore for one MW of coal power. We need new ways to get around solar energy. That is why we are going to space,” he said.
He added that the cost of transportation (or space travel) needs to be cut in order to make optimum use of our space missions towards meeting our energy needs.
“Moon has Helium 3 that we can use here as fuel after nuclear fusion. However, can we bring down the cost of transportation? We have to focus on this,” he said.
Terming reusability of shuttles as the key, Rao said air travel became cheaper as an aeroplane can now carry 50 per cent of its own weight in terms of men and cargo and make many trips.
Prof Rao said that he expects the Mars Orbiter mission to discover new features of the red planet hitherto unknown.
“For example, I’d like the mission to find out more on methane, although we know about it. The idea should be to find out more,” Rao said. He said that if the Mars mission did not happen next year, then it would have to wait till 2016 or 2018.
On the idea of sending an Indian into space in 2016, Prof Rao said that India would need a larger GLSV that can take 5 tonnes compared to the existing capacity of 3 tonnes.
“To have a manned mission by 2016 is a feasible target, but we need to take decisions now,” he said.