By: Dr. Prasun Halder
After the successful and historic soft landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the south pole of the moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is now preparing to take a giant leap in space technology as it is planning India’s maiden human spaceflight mission, namely ‘Gaganyaan.’
The program aims to send a three-member crew to the Lower Earth Orbit of 400 km for a 3-day mission and bring them back safely to Earth by landing in the Bay of Bengal. This ambitious mission will be accomplished through the indigenous expertise and experience of various concerned industries, the intellectual capacities of Indian academia and premier research organizations, and the state-of-the-art technologies of some international agencies.
The ‘Gaganyaan’ is a complex mission as it involves the planning, development, and execution of some critical and cutting-edge technologies, such as a human-rated launch vehicle to safely carry the crews to space, a Life Support System to provide a habitable Earth-like environment in the crew module, a crew emergency escape system, and crew management activities, among others.
Some important demonstrator missions like Integrated Air Drop Test (IADT), Pad Abort Test (PAT), Test Vehicle (TV) flights, etc., have also been planned by ISRO before the actual mission starts. Moreover, a humanoid female robot called ‘Vyommitra’ is being developed by ISRO, who will be a part of the preliminary uncrewed ‘Gaganyaan’ mission for microgravity experiments, monitoring the essential module parameters, and assisting the selected astronauts in the original crewed mission by simulating human-like functions.
By now, this all-important ₹12,500 crore ISRO mission has already completed its first phase, as Gaganyaan’s first Flight Test Vehicle Abort Mission-1 (TV-D1) was accomplished nicely, and the Crew Escape System was performed successfully on 21st October 2023. On the other hand, the primarily selected astronauts are being trained at the training facility commissioned in Bengaluru.
This inspirational manned mission will help India stand at par with Russia, the United States, and China regarding the launch of their own crewed spacecraft. Additionally, it will contribute to the enhancement of science and technology levels in the country, industrial growth, and international collaborations.
Author is Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Jammu
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