The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) conducted the third big test part of the ambitious development of the Gaganyaan Mission to send Indian astronauts into space.
The liquid-propelled single-stage Test Vehicle (TV-D1) lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on a brief yet consequential flight carrying a homegrown system that would be crucial for the safety of the Indian astronauts – the Crew Escape System.
A similar fail-safe approach had been taken for Chandrayaan-3 and had helped ISRO script history by making India the first country to land nearer the south pole of the Moon in August. The stakes, though, are much higher this time because the lives of humans will be involved.
The automatic launch sequence began at 8.30 AM IST, but the mission’s ground computers halted the sequence after observing an anomaly, according to ISRO chief S Somanath. Since then, the issue has been identified, and the mission launched at 10 AM IST on October 21. The Crew Escape System successfully separated the Crew Module from the launch vehicle. After descending using parachutes, it splashed down successfully in the Bay of Bengal.
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 Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target that ISRO sets up an Indian Space Station by 2035 and launches an Indian astronaut to the Moon by 2040.
The primary objective of this Flight test vehicle Abort mission was to demonstrate the performance of the Crew escape system as part of the Gaganyaan mission. The mission aimed to evaluate various subsystems of the Test Vehicle, including the Crew Escape System and its separation systems. Additionally, it sought to assess crew module characteristics and demonstrate the deceleration system at higher altitudes and its recovery.
The Test Vehicle used for this abort mission was a single-stage liquid rocket specifically developed for this purpose. It carried the Crew Module (CM) and Crew Escape Systems (CES) equipped with their fast-acting solid motors, along with CM fairing (CMF) and Interface Adapters.
The mission simulated an abort condition during the ascent trajectory, corresponding to a Mach number of 1.2, which is encountered during the Gaganyaan mission.
The successful execution of this test flight marks a significant achievement for India’s space exploration efforts, showcasing the country’s potential to send humans into space. The Gaganyaan project aims to demonstrate India’s human spaceflight capabilities by launching a crew of three members into a 400 km orbit for a 3-day mission, ensuring their safe return by landing in Indian waters. Upon its completion, India will become the fourth nation, after the US, Russia, and China, to undertake a manned spaceflight mission.