Boeing Defense, Space and Security has offered India crucial human support systems for the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) planned manned mission to space in 2015.
The systems on offer include a Launch Escape System, Vehicle Monitoring System and Abort Trigger, Life Support System, Environmental Controlling System and systems for CO2 (Carbon dioxide) removal and humidity control. Also on offer are crew accommodations like seats and pressure suits, besides reusable space systems and composite cryogenic tanks.
These are systems that are less likely to come under United States export restrictions on dual use technology. But Boeing says reusable space systems, like the recently launched X-37, an unmanned shuttle are also up for discussion.
Sam Gunderson, Business Development Senior Manager at the Boeing Company, told visiting media in Orlando, Florida, “Boeing wants to work with India using our commercial crew spacecraft capabilities.”
Two Boeing officials Roger Krone and Jeff Trauberman met Dr. K Radhakrishnan, the Chairman of the (Indian) Space Commission and the head of ISRO and KR Sridhara Murthi, Managing Director of the Antrix Corporation last February where the latter was designated as the pointsman for follow up.
Krone, speaking to visiting Indian media at the Kennedy Space Center, said, “We’ve sent our letter into the state department. So that’s the first thing that has to happen. We’ve identified several areas – when we were in India, we mentioned this. So we met with ISRO and we talked about things we could do together – a whole variety of projects.”
“What we’ve done at Boeing is we’ve made our application to our state department – what we call a TAA (Technical Assistance Agreement), which allows us to have those discussions and so those have been filed. We want to make sure we get through all the department of state issues before we over-commit,” he said, also adding, “I hate to speak for ISRO – you’ll have to ask them – but I think they’re interested and having discussions and technical interchange – they want to make sure we get through all the export (issues).
Krone says typically this process, initiated in the last one month, takes 90 days but he has also known it to take a year. But he remains confident. “At Boeing we know how to do this. We do a lot of TAA applications,” he says.
India carried NASA (US National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and other international sensors on its Chandrayaan 1 lunar orbiter, which ended up discovering traces of water on the moon.
The US space shuttle program is likely to come to an end this year and Boeing is looking to offer its existing capabilities to partners from other countries. According to Boeing officials this would allow them to maintain and upgrade existing capabilities which could otherwise be lost in the absence of a program to replace the space shuttle program. The US is now planning to move beyond Low Earth Orbit missions, at a time when countries like India are moving towards developing robust capabilities in Low Earth Orbit.
Boeing is the lead contractor providing launch services for the NASA space shuttle program.
Your correspondent is visiting the United States at the invitation of the Boeing Company.