Space Science: ISRO’s Manned Mission – Gaganyaan

Dr. Prasun Halder

After the successful and historic soft landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the south pole of moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is now preparing to take a giant leap in the space technology as it is planning for 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 premiere research organisations, 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 human-rated launch vehicle to safely carry the crews to space, Life Support System to provide a habitable earth like environment in the crew module, crew emergency escape system, crew management activities etc. 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 the microgravity experiments, monitoring the essential module parameters, and also assist the selected astronauts in the original crewed mission by simulating human-like functions.
By now, this all-important Rs 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 to stand at par with Russia, United States and China regarding the launch of their own crewed spacecrafts. Additionally, it will help in the enhancement of science and technology levels in the country, industrial growth, and international collaborations.
(The writer is Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Jammu).

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