India will not undertake a human space flight before the year 2017 and is likely to use a next-generation rocket for the ambitious mission, the cost of which would be reworked, Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation, K Radhakrishnan said on Monday.
Radhakrishnan, also Department of Space Secretary and Space Commission Chairman, confirmed that the venture is not part of the 12th five-year plan (2012-2017) but said there are funds to continue with pre-project studies and develop critical technologies associated with the proposed mission.
ISRO officials noted that the space agency currently does not have an operational GSLV, after two unsuccessful missions, one with Indian cryogenic engine and another with the imported Russian one in 2010.
Radhakrishnan said GSLV with indigenous cryogenic engine and stage would be flight-tested in January-February next year.
"If you look at the scenario today, we do not have a programme (human space flight) declared as such (yet to get Cabinet approval)", he told reporters in response to questions.
ISRO's proposed human space flight programme was much talked about in the second half of the last decade but the twin-failures of the GSLV has saw to it that it lost momentum.
In 2008-09, it was estimated that a sum of Rs 12,400 crore would be required for undertaking the mission. "We need to rework (on that figure)", Radhakrishnan said.
GSLV-Mk II (rocket) was proposed to be used for the mission then, but Radhakrishnan said it would be able to carry a two-member crew only, while GSLV-Mk III which is under development would have additional mass left for conducting scientific experiments besides a two-member crew.
"We feel it (GSLV-Mk III) would be a better vehicle (for the mission)", he said.
Radhakrishnan, however, said ISRO already has a budget of Rs 150 crore for conducting pre-project studies and developing critical technologies including environmental control, space suit, reentry and crew escape system. The rocket must have man-rating, he noted.
The mission is aimed at building and demonstrate the capability for carrying humans to low earth orbit and their safe return to earth.
In the year 2008, the buzz was that India would likely to have the human space flight during 2014-15, which now appears to be surely missed.
An ISRO official in private said as of now, it appears such a mission may not take place before the end of the current decade.