Gaganyaan ISRO: India has achieved a significant milestone in its ambitious human spaceflight program as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully conducted a critical test of its Crew Escape System. This accomplishment brings the country one step closer to launching its first manned mission to space, known as the Gaganyaan mission.
On Saturday morning, scientists at ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota carried out the test, which simulated an emergency situation. The primary objective was to ensure that the Crew Escape System could safely remove the crew module from the test vehicle and land it in the sea in the event of a real contingency. The test was a resounding success, demonstrating that the system performed as intended.
Gaganyaan ISRO: The Crew Escape System
The Crew Escape System is a critical component of the Gaganyaan mission. It operates automatically and is triggered by computer detection of malfunctions or issues that may occur shortly after lift-off, before the rocket stage separation. In the event of an emergency, this system swiftly ejects the crew module to minimize potential risks during the early phases of ascent, ensuring the safety of astronauts.
The test involved launching an empty crew module and creating an emergency situation to confirm that the module could effectively remove itself from the vehicle and land safely in the sea, where it could be recovered. The success of this test marked the first of many that ISRO plans to undertake as it prepares for a manned mission to space, tentatively scheduled for around 2025.
How was the Crew Escape System Tested?
During the test, the crew module was released from the test vehicle at an altitude of 11.7 kilometers, and subsequently, the abort sequence was executed autonomously. The Crew Module separated from the Crew Escape System at an altitude of 16.9 kilometers while traveling at a speed of 550 kilometers per hour. Parachutes were deployed to slow the module’s descent.
After a successful launch in the morning, the crew module descended using parachutes and splashed down in the Bay of Bengal. It was later recovered by the Eastern Naval Command units, demonstrating the collaborative effort between the Navy and ISRO to ensure the safe retrieval of the module.
The Gaganyaan ISRO Mission
The Gaganyaan Isro mission aims to develop a human-habitable space capsule capable of carrying a three-member crew into an orbit of 400 kilometers for three days before splashing down in the Indian Ocean. This mission represents a significant leap for India’s space agency, following its recent achievements, such as sending a spacecraft to the south pole of the Moon (Chandrayaan-3) and a probe to study the Sun (Aditya-L1).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised ISRO for its achievements, stating, “This launch takes us one step closer to realizing India’s first human space flight program, Gaganyaan.” The Minister of Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh, also commended ISRO’s efforts, emphasizing the government’s support for India’s space exploration goals.
The Gaganyaan program aims to send Indian astronauts to low Earth orbit for the first time by 2024-2025. PM Narendra Modi has set an ambitious timeline that includes establishment of a space station around 2035 and manned missions to the Moon by 2040.
If successful, India would become the fourth nation with independent human spaceflight capability after Russia, U.S. and China. The recent crew escape test flight has boosted the confidence of ISRO scientists as they proceed with developing and testing the systems needed to safely fly Indian astronauts into space within the next few years.