Khabrein.info is confidently reporting late this evening of plans for a manned expedition to the moon by the Indian Space Research Organisation. The unconfirmed time frame places Indian astronauts on the lunar surface before the proposed Ares I booster manages to place its first Orion CEV in Low Earth Orbit in 2015.
This will certainly come as a surprise given India's present lack of any present manned space capabilities, unless a further cooperation agreement with Russia allows for a launch of a Soyuz from Sriharikota. It isn't clear whether Roscosmos might be willing to part with an Energia heavy-lift or just exactly what New Dehli's plans might be.
"A report with regard to manned mission to moon by 2014-15 is being submitted to the government for approval and budgetary allocation," Khabrein posts.
"The Space Commission, headed by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will meet soon to review the report and take a decision," ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair told reporters in the Southern Indian city of Bangalore today.
"The report also speaks about collaborations and creating teams for coordinating the mission," Nair told reporters, Indo-Asian News Service reports.
"On India's space programmes," Nair said "ISRO would undertake 70 missions during 2007-2012."
"The proposed missions will be a combination of satellite launches with transponders for enhancing communications, education, health, remote sensing, observatory and exploratory." (sic)
"We will also undertake projects for re-entry vehicles and recovery capsules," Nair said."
All of which sounds to me like a good idea, if you plan to go to the moon anytime soon.