The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will execute the first of multiple test flights ahead of the Gaganyaan mission — India’s first manned mission to space — on October 21, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Space, Science and Technology, said on Tuesday.
The test will be conducted at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota and is intended to test the ‘crew module ’ or the part of vehicle where the Indian astronauts will be housed.
The test involves launching the module to outer space and bringing it back to earth and recovering it after touchdown in the Bay of Bengal. The Navy personnel have already started mock operations to recover the module, said Mr. Singh. Along with the crew module, there will also be a ‘crew escape’ system. If the spacecraft while ascending into space faces a problem, this escape system is expected to separate and bring the crew safely back to sea from where they will be picked by the Navy personnel.
In the first of this tests called, Test Vehicle Abort Mission (TV-D1), the module will be identical to the one deployed to space, except that it will be ‘unpressurised.’
Crew Escape Systems
The TV-D1 test vehicle is a single-stage liquid-fuelled rocket developed for this abort mission. “The payloads consist of the Crew Module [CM] and Crew Escape Systems [CES] and will simulate the abort condition during the ascent trajectory corresponding to a Mach number of 1.2 [1 mach is 330 metres per second, or the speed of sound] expected in the Gaganyaan mission. CES with CM will be separated from the Test Vehicle at an altitude of about 17 km. Subsequently, the abort sequence will be executed autonomously commencing with the separation of CES and deployment of the series of parachutes, finally culminating in the safe touchdown of CM in the sea, about 10 km from the coast of Sriharikota,” the ISRO said in a statement.
The success of this test will set the stage for the first unmanned “Gaganyaan” mission and ultimately manned mission to outer space in low earth orbit, said Mr. Singh. “Before the ultimate manned “Gaganyaan” mission, there will be a test flight next year, which will carry “Vyommitra”, the female robot astronaut,” he added.
The Gaganyaan mission is expected to be executed in the second half of next year.