CSIR labs urged to develop materials for space missions

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) can have a strong collaboration with CSIR-NIIST in many ways by focusing on self-reliant strategies, it has been pointed out.

The laboratories functioning under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have the potential to play a critical role in providing cost-effective indigenous materials to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in various stages of its space missions and other projects.

Dr S Unnikrishnan Nair, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) stressed this while highlighting the need to achieve self-reliance, in his inaugural address at the thematic session on “Strategic and Regional Materials,” organised as part of the ongoing ‘One Week One Lab (OWOL)’ programme of CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (CSIR-NIIST), a constituent laboratory of CSIR, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, in the Kerala capital.

Noting that depending on imported materials is not always viable, Dr Nair said ISRO needs many special materials like titanium alloy, Haynes 25 alloy and C-103 (Cobalt-based alloy for engine parts) and the country’s space agency is still facing shortage of materials like quality titanium sponge. He added that ISRO can have a strong collaboration with CSIR-NIIST in many ways by focusing on self-reliant strategies.

Space agency investment 12-plus industries

 Elaborating ISRO’s initiatives, Dr Nair said the country’s space agency has invested in more than 12 industries with over Rs 500 crore for manufacturing indigenised materials and products.

“For low thermal expansion glass ceramics one facility has been set up at International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), Hyderabad and we have also held discussions with CSIR labs for manufacturing space quality optical glass,” he said.

Dr Nair explained that the special viewport for astronauts made out of special glass that should withstand rigours of re-entry and at the same time should give a clear view is not made in the country.  He said the difficulty is that a minimum order of quantity is required for importing the glass. The silica gel-based products, which are used for Chandrayaan land up, cost around US$ 15,000 per kilo while importing.

Need for viable tech highlighted

Stressing the need for a viable technology, Dr Nair called upon researchers to think about ways to recycle helium gas. “There is hardly any attempt for manufacturing carbon fibre in India. Its tolerance to high temperature and high strength and other properties make it attractive for many of the space applications,” he pointed out.

Dr C Anandharamakrishnan, Director, CSIR-NIIST, Thiruvananthapuram, who presided over the session, said that CSIR-NIIST is planning to set up in-house metal, bio material and food 3D printer along with their designing and modelling group. It will definitely help bringing in a lot of visibility as well as support to strategic materials. Dr Avanish Kumar Srivastava, Director, CSIR-Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute (CSIR-AMPRI), Bhopal, said strategic materials have direct co-relation with economy and out of 37 labs of CSIR 24 are working on strategic materials.

An MoU was exchanged between CSIR-NIIST and Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML), Kollam, on a project, “Extraction of Rare Earth Elements from the Acid Leach Liquor of KMML,” at the function. The document was exchanged between Dr Anandharamakrishnan and Janardhanan Chandrabose, Managing Director, KMML, Kollam.

Three more MoUs for the joint ventures between CSIR-NIIST and industries on strategic sectors were exchanged on the occasion. Dr Anandharamakrishnan handed over the MoUs to officials of Tachlog Pvt. Ltd., Zealous Endeavour Pvt. Ltd. and Future 3D Pvt. Ltd.

Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »

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