Gaganyaan is India’s first manned space mission which is expected to take astronauts in the LEO by the end of 2024 or early 2025.
The Indian Space Research Organisation will launch the first test flight of the country’s maiden human space flight mission, Gaganyaan, in February 2023, an official said on Thursday. The Gaganyaan program aims to send humans to Low Earth Orbit, or LEO. The mission will carry a crew of three astronauts to 400 km LEO where they will be stationed for three days.
According to PTI, which quoted R Umamaheshwaran, Director of ISRO’s Human Space Flight Centre, the Indian space agency further aims to deploy the heavy-lift Chinook helicopter and the C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft for testing the crew module, which will carry astronauts. The agency has completed the crew module, where the astronauts are supposed to sit and fly, and fabrication work is in progress. “Within six months, we will get the crew module,” Umamaheshwaran said.
Furthermore, ISRO has also completed the design of the Environment Control System, which will provide ambient living conditions to the astronauts in the crew module. “We have to provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, remove humidity, maintain temperature and also ensure there is no fire hazard. This is a very complex technology which no country would give us,” he said, as reported by PTI.
Umamaheshwaran further noted that designing the crew module and environment control system was challenging as astronauts should feel comfortable during their re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere when the temperature outside the space capsule could reach over 2,000 degrees Celsius. Four candidates were shortlisted for the mission and have completed their initial training in Russia. They are currently undergoing training at the Astronaut Training Facility in Bengaluru, he added.
India’s first manned mission to space, the Gaganyaan mission, was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day, 2018 with an outlay of Rs 10,000 crore. The human space flight was scheduled to launch in 2022, when India completed 75 years of independence, but got delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Indian astronauts will now likely undertake their maiden spaceflight by the end of 2024 or early 2025. As part of the Gaganyaan program, two unmanned missions and one manned mission are approved by the Indian government.