Bengaluru: Isro on Monday said it would commence unmanned flight tests for the Gaganyaan human spaceflight mission with the launch of a test vehicle between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. on October 21 from Sriharikota spaceport to demonstrate the performance of the crew escape system. The test, dubbed TV-D1 for short, will simulate an abort condition during the ascent trajectory of the Crew Module (CM), which will carry three astronauts to orbit 400 km above earth’s surface for a one-to-three day mission and return them safely onboard a reentry capsule landing in Indian sea waters.
The CM and crew escape systems will separate from the test vehicle at an altitude of about 17km in this mission, which will be carried out by India’s heaviest rocket, LVM3. The CM, a pressurized cabin that will house astronauts, will be extensively instrumented to capture flight data for evaluation, Isro officials said. It has undergone multiple electrical tests at Isro’s facility in Bengaluru, including an acoustic test. It was dispatched to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on August 13 for vibration tests and pre-integration with the Test Vehicle.
After the success of this test, Isro will carry out two more uncrewed missions with robotic payloads for detailed verification of the various systems in the CM, Isro chief S Somanath told reporters. Then, he added, the mission will be ready for human spaceflight with the launch of Vyommitra, or “space’s friend,” in 2024. This will be followed by a human-carrying mission in 2025, to which the robot above, with a humanlike face and speaking capabilities, will assist.
Isro is also working on the infrastructure to send a crew of three astronauts to the MoonMoon and later on to set up an Indian space station in 2035, he added. The agency has already launched a probe to Mars and has plans to make a lunar rover that will rove on the surface of the red planet.
Moreover, Isro also plans to send the first Indian to the MoonMoon by 2040 and an astronaut to Mars in 2024. It is the nation’s most significant space project to date.
Isro chairman S Somanath said that after the successful completion of the Gaganyaan’s flight test, three more test vehicles for the human-crewed mission will be launched. “These will be launched in quick succession to verify the overall robustness of the system,” he said. He added that the Gaganyaan mission will mark a milestone in India’s space program and will help boost its international profile. He urged the media to take full advantage of the opportunity to promote the mission and spread awareness. The launch will be a live webcast on X, the social media platform Isro launched in June. It will enable users to watch the event on their mobile devices or computers from anywhere in the world. Isro has also posted details of the launch on its Twitter handle.