Explained: What is Gaganyaan, India’s inaugural manned space expedition?


Recently, ISRO concluded a vital crew egress system examination for the Gaganyaan mission, which will illustrate India’s ability to undertake human space travel

On 21 October, India moved a step closer to its first crewed space mission, Gaganyaan, after successfully completing a crucial examination.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) commenced the Test Vehicle Demonstration (TV-D1), the single-stage liquid propulsion rocket, at 10 a.m. on 21 October from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

“I am delighted to announce the prosperous completion of the TV-D1 mission,” Isro’s chief S Somnath said in a press conference, according to a report from Press Trust of India (PTI) . The primary objective of the mission was to exhibit the crew escape system’s performance for the Gaganyaan mission.

The Gaganyaan venture will seek to validate human space travel capability by launching a crew consisting of three individuals into an orbit of 400 km for a three-day mission and safely returning them to Earth.

The test flight launched TV-D1 fitted with a crew escape system and crew module at an altitude of 17 km followed by a secure touchdown in the Bay of Bengal, approximately 10 km from Sriharikota. According to a Reuters report, approximately ₹90 billion has been allocated for the mission.

Prior to the launch of the Gaganyaan mission, several precursor missions will be conducted to assess the readiness of critical technologies. Isro states that these missions include a human-rated launch vehicle to transport the crew safely into space, a life-support system to provide a terrestrial-like environment for the crew in space, crew emergency escape provisions, and the development of crew management aspects for training, recovery, and rehabilitation of the crew.

Additionally, these missions will test the technology incorporated in the spaceflight, such as an integrated air drop test, pad abort test, and test vehicle flights. Unmanned missions will be conducted before the manned mission to examine the safety and reliability of all systems.

Somnath stated on Sunday that Isro prefers female fighter test pilots or female scientists for the human space flight mission, as reported by PTI. He also mentioned that Isro plans to send a female humanoid, a robot resembling a human, on its unmanned Gaganyaan spacecraft next year. “Right now, the initial candidates are to be from Air Force fighter test pilots…they are a bit different category,” he said in a press conference, one day after the successful test flight.

With the achievements of Chandrayaan-3 and Aditya-L1, India could potentially focus on entering the space tourism market, which has experienced rapid growth in recent years. Gaganyaan also serves as a stepping stone for India’s objective of establishing its own space station by 2035, as recently announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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