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Nuclear and hybrid propulsion systems for spacecraft mooted

Indian scientists and researchers have to look beyond chemical propulsion techniques and focus on emerging technologies to make space travel a reality, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Director S.Somanath has said.

Presiding over the inaugural session of a national conference on future directions in propulsion which began here on Friday under the auspices of the Aeronautical Society of India and the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation, he said future inter-planetary missions of the ISRO necessitated higher levels of propulsion using new-age technologies.

He stressed the need to step up research on the development of reusable launch vehicles, new lightweight materials, eco-friendly propellants, electric propulsion systems and additive manufacturing of spacecraft components.

Founder Director, LPSC, A.E.Muthunayagam, who inaugurated the conference, proposed a 20-year road map for the ISRO, focussing on future technologies. He lauded the untiring efforts of scientists that had gone into the the evolution of the LPSC as a major space technology development centre.

ISRO chairman K.Sivan, who addressed the inaugural session over a video link, called for focussed research into reusable launch vehicles to lower the cost of access to space. He also stressed the need to explore new technologies like nuclear and hybrid propulsion systems for spacecraft.

LPSC Director V.Narayanan said the development of the cryogenic upper stage for the GSLV launch vehicle and thrusters for satellites and spacecraft for the Chandrayaan and Mangalyan missions had given the ISRO confidence to progress to new technologies like semi-cryogenic engines, composite motors and green propellants.

Chancellor, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, B.N.Suresh said India could play a bigger role in the comity of space faring nations if the country focussed on future technologies for inter-planetary missions and lowering the cost of access to space.

Director, IIST, V.K.Dadhwal, Director, ISRO Propulsion Complex, S.Pandian, Director, ISRO Inertial Systems Unit, D.Sam Dayal Dev, Chairman, AeSI, Thiruvananthapuram, G.Ayappan and secretary G.Narayanan also spoke.

Scientists from ISRO centres and research institutions are participating in the two-day event to discuss the latest advancements and trends in launch vehicle and in-space propulsion technologies. The technical sessions centred on new spacecraft thrusters, booster cryo engines, electric and hybrid propulsion technologies, reusable launch vehicles, composite motors, nuclear propulsion, additive manufacturing of rocket engines and environment- friendly propellants.