Riding on the huge success of Chandrayaan-3, India is now taking baby steps towards the ambitious Gaganyaan mission.
On Saturday, Gaganyaan’s crew module escape system will be live tested from Sriharikota. This is the first of the 20 big tests that ISRO has planned for the near future. All in an effort to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target that ISRO sets up an Indian Space Station by 2035 and launch Indian astronaut to the Moon by 2040.
Dr Unnikrishnan Nair, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, ISRO – a key player in India’s human space program says, “Gaganyaan is challenging but very doable as India has all the necessary technology and ₹ 9,000 crore have already been sanctioned by the government”.
Narendra Modi has already announced that New Delhi will set up an Indian Space Station by 2035 and send an ‘Indian to Moon by 2040’.
Nair says, “Humans will inhabit the moon sooner than later and India a country of 1.4 billion can’t be left behind so ISRO is preparing to give India independent access to space for its citizens on its own steam”.
PM Modi in a statement said “to realise this Vision, the Department of Space will develop a roadmap for Moon exploration. This will encompass a series of Chandrayaan missions, the development of a Next Generation Launch Vehicle (NGLV), construction of a new launch pad, setting up human-centric Laboratories and associated technologies.”
A crucial test of the Gaganyaan mission will answer some crucial questions. What happens to our astronauts if things go wrong? Will the test capsule separate from the rocket? Will emergency parachutes open, before the crew escape system lands in the Indian Ocean? The Indian space agency will conduct a crew escape system test – an important test to prove the safety of the rocket before humans can be orbited.
On the ambitious Gaganyaan program, ISRO hopes to launch an Indian astronaut into space from Indian soil on an Indian rocket sometime after 2024. The Indian crew module can accommodate three astronauts who can then have a mission of up to a week in a low earth orbit.
The crew module is likely to be tested on a new rocket initially without housing any astronauts and an abort test will be conducted at an altitude of 17 kilometres and the crew module will be recovered from the Bay of Bengal by the Indian Navy. Many tests like this will be conducted and if nearly two dozen or more of these big tests are successful, then any of the four designated astronauts will be flown.
Gaganyaan Mission will launch an Indian astronaut into space from Sriharikota. Crew Escape System will be tested soon before humans can be flown. The module can accommodate a crew of three for about a week in space. The Crew Module has been designed by ISRO and it is Indian.
Launch Vehicle Mark -3 the chosen rocket is now human-rated. Four astronauts have been trained, all four are Indian Air Force (IAF) test pilots and all four in the maiden cohort are men as there were no female test pilots in India. Nair says “Women can be accommodated in the future as ISRO is gender agnostic and only talent matters”. In the Gaganyaan Mission, Russian-made flight suits will be used
But ISRO’s ambitious Gaganyaan Mission to send an Indian astronaut into space is giving the scientists working on it sleepless nights since this will be the first time ISRO will launch an Indian into space.
Dr Unnikrishnan Nair says, “The astronauts will bring glory to India, and if India succeeds it will become the fourth country to have independent capability to send humans to space after Russia, USA and China.” “I am not tense about Gaganyaan, we need to do our homework properly but Gaganyaan will certainly cause skipping of heartbeats,” he added