Chennai: In the coming years, while the Indian astronauts will be in space for Gaganyaan mission, the Indian marine researchers will dive into the depths of the ocean(6kms), as a part of the Samudrayaan mission. Recently, scientists tested a basic version of the human-carrying shell of the Samudrayaan mission, off the Chennai coast.
A steel hull meant for demonstration had been sent to a depth of 500m, as opposed to the original titanium hull that would have to dive 6km. Samudrayaan is India's ambitious deep-sea exploration mission, that will place the country in an elite list of about six nations that have operated manned, deep-sea probes for exploration, studies and research.
Helmed by India’s National Institute of Ocean Technology, this initiative has roped in partners such as IITs, ISRO among others to fulfill various aspects of the design, testing and development within the country, while some aspects would be from the International market. The primary goal of the Samudrayaan Mission is to develop Matsya 6000, a manned deep-sea exploration vehicle that will be propelled by battery power and can remain at a depth of 6km for a duration of four hours.
The vehicle is a platform to carry devices, sensors and other equipment and conduct experiments that would further enable deep sea mineral exploration, improve understanding of mineral resources, investigation of tectonic activities and other deep-sea phenomena. This vehicle would be capable of carrying three persons, in a titanium-alloy spheresphere.
Regarding the technical specifications of the Samudrayaan manned vehicle, Dr. Ramadass, Director, NIOT said that it would contain a thick hull that can withstand a pressure of 600bar, at the depths of 6km. As a part of the initial testing of the human capsule, it was submerged to a depth of 500m, subsequently we will keep testing was greater depth. “This is a five year project, where the end goal is to get a titanium-alloy sphere of 80mm thickness and 2.1meter diameter, which can carry humans. The components that go into the vehicle are being tested one by one. Many are being developed within India and some are being bought from the International market” he added.
Queried about the budget allocated for such deep-sea projects, Dr. Ramadass told Zee Media that the whole deep ocean mission was allocated Rs.4077, for a period of five years. However, the Samudrayaan vehicle alone would cost around Rs.350cr, besides the expenditure on establishing testing facilities and support infrastructure.
On the rationale behind having a manned mission to such depths, instead of using unmanned vehicles, the Director explained that electromagnetic waves would not penetrate water to great depths and that there were limitations in sending a tethered vehicle to the depths of the ocean. “In a manned mission, we will be having a standalone probe that will have its own propulsion, oxygen generation, carbon dioxide removal, lights and cameras and other sensors. We can also have basic acoustic communication with the manned probe”, he explained.
Speaking at the launch event, Union Minister Dr. Jitendra singh said that missions like Gaganyaan human spaceflight and Samudrayaan manned deep sea exploration gave Indians a sense of prestige and elevated india to a list of a few elite nations. He also touched upon the importance of industry and academia working together to attain such national missions