India conducts crucial test ahead of first manned space mission

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Saturday successfully launched the first of a series of test flights in preparation for the ambitious human spacelift mission Gaganyaan scheduled for 2025.

  1. The Flight Test Vehicle Abort Mission 1 has lift-off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in southern India’s Andhra Pradesh state on the second attempt. The launch was initially put on hold after the trouble with engine ignition was discovered.
  • “Engine ignition has not happened in the nominal course, we need to find out what went wrong. The vehicle is safe, we need to look at what happened… will correct it and schedule launch soon,” ISRO chairman S. Somanath stated.

ISRO has quickly identified the cause and successfully pulled off the test at 10am.

The mission is primarily aimed to tested the efficacy of the crew escape system on the Gaganyaan mission’s crew module, which will allow those onboard to exit the spacecraft if the mission is aborted.

  • “Test Vehicle mission with this CM [crew module] is a significant milestone for the overall Gaganyaan programme as a near-complete system is integrated for a flight test. The success of this test flight will set the stage for the remaining qualification tests and unmanned missions, leading to the first Gaganyaan mission with Indian Astronauts,” ISRO said in a statement earlier this month.

Through the Gaganyaan mission, which would cost the country around 90 billion Indian rupees ($ 1 billion), India plans to demonstrate its human spaceflight capability by taking a crewed spacecraft to an altitude of about 400km above the Earth for four days to a week.

It will then splash down into the Indian Ocean.

  • For the mission, ISRO will use the LVM3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3) rocket which was earlier used for India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission to the Moon. If the ‘Gaganyaan’ mission is successful, India will become only the fourth country, after the US, Soviet Union, and China, to launch a crewed spacecraft all by itself.

On Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting to assess the progress of the country’s first human spacelift.

  • During the meeting, India’s Department of Space presented to Modi a comprehensive overview of the mission, including “various technologies developed for the mission, such as human-rated launch vehicles and system qualification.” The Gaganyaan mission, which is now slated for 2025, has been delayed multiple times, first due to the Covid-19 pandemic and then over safety concerns.

The crew for Gaganyaan, comprising four Indian Air Force personnel, is currently being trained in southern India’s Karnataka state after initially having undergone the basic training at Russia’s Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center at Star City, about 30 kilometers north of Moscow, from February 2020 to March 2021.

According to Indian media reports, they were being made to understand flight systems, microgravity, flying in space, medical procedures, academic courses, flight suits and simulators.

Source: RT

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