EXCLUSIVE: Gaganyaan space mission only after meeting all strict parameters, says ISRO chief

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The final date of India’s first human space mission, Gaganyaan, will only be confirmed after the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is satisfied that all parameters required to ensure the safety of the crew and the mission are well in place, said the head of the country’s nodal antenna. the space agency said.

“Gaganyaan is a technology-intensive program where we have to work on launch vehicles, we have to work on human craftsmanship, we have to work on environmental control and life support systems, and we have to look at how the machines that interface with astronauts with are created. We have to test them very seriously and successfully every step of the way,” ISRO Chairman, who is also Chairman of the Space Commission, S Somnath told Business Today exclusively at New Delhi.

As a result, Somnath indicated that the final timeline might be stretched a bit. The project was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech in August 2018 and 10,000 crore rupees ($1.5 billion) was sanctioned for the purpose. The week-long spaceflight was originally scheduled for 2021 to coincide with India’s 75th independence anniversary.

However, the program has been delayed largely due to Covid-19-induced lockdowns. The spaceflight will now be launched in 2023, Minister of State at the Space Department Jitendra Singh had told Rajya Sabha in December.

“As of today, it’s not something that needs to be done by tomorrow. That kind of hype doesn’t exist. We would like to execute the mission very systematically,” Somnath remarked.

Somnath was in the nation’s capital to receive the Outstanding Public Sector Unit (PSU) Award from the All India Management Association (AIMA) for ISRO.

leave nothing to chance

To ensure the success of the program, ISRO has identified a series of major tests, with particular emphasis on crew safety. This includes the successful return of the crew to Earth in the event of a technical problem under several conditions.

Manned space missions involve a fusion of several technologies and intense coordination between different teams to significantly reduce the margin of error. The history of space travel has revealed that challenges can arise unexpectedly at any time, from takeoff to the injection stage.

For example, if there is an emergency when Gaganyaan is over the Americas, it should be possible to safely land the crew in a nearby substage for evacuation. All of these things require a tremendous collaborative effort.

“Imagine if we have a disaster on the very first mission, what will be its impact on the whole program? I don’t think he will then progress beyond that point,” said a cautious Somnath.

“Before finally undertaking this mission, we would like to perform a sufficient number of stimulation flights with unmanned crew modules under different conditions. We must create more than what we already have. Today we have the rocket and the spacecraft, but they have to be made human,” he added.

This would involve ensuring the ability of machines to deal with the unexpected more effectively. ISRO must also ensure that space module astronauts can travel comfortably in a shirt environment. Upon re-entry of the module into Earth’s atmosphere, astronauts will need to be returned safely from any part of the globe.

ISRO has completed the human evaluation of the rocket, while the module that will carry the crew into space is in preparation. The four unidentified Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter pilots handpicked as Gaganyaan’s potential crew returned to India after completing basic astronaut training in Russia last year . They are currently undergoing mission-specific training in several locations across the country.

A successful mission would propel India into the elite club of nations capable of independent spaceflight after Russia, the United States and China. It will also enable India to significantly increase its share in the global commercial space sector from the current $7 billion to $50 billion by 2024.

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