ISRO awaits advanced materials

A national effort is needed to develop and produce advanced and exotic materials to drive the future space programme, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Sivan has said. Along with high propulsion systems for its launch vehicles, the ISRO is pursuing materials that have extraordinary properties, such as aluminium and beryllium alloys and carbon nanotubes. These are needed for the upcoming high-profile national missions such as the Human Space Programme (HSP), the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), re-entering crew capsules, fuel-saving scramjet missions and the distant single-stage launchers. Locally made materials will also help to cut imports and also lower mission costs, Dr. Sivan said here. He was delivering the 37th annual Brahm Prakash memorial lecture organised by the Indian Institute of Metals and the Indian Institute of Science. Brahm Prakash was a renowned metallurgist and former director of ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, in the 1970s. “In recent years, ISRO has indigenised a large number of materials that are hard to get. This has reduced the import content from around 32% to 8% now. However, development of advanced materials such as carbon carbon composites and those for electronics is the immediate need of the space programme. A national effort is required in these two areas,” Dr. Sivan said.

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