What is Gaganyaan?
Gaganyaan is a mission by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to send a three-member crew to space for a period of five to seven days by 2025.
- The space mission was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018 in his Independence Day address to the nation.
- Ahead of the manned mission, ISRO plans to send two unmanned missions to space as part of the Gaganyaan mission.
- However, the first unmanned mission has been delayed because of the disruption in ISRO’s work and operations on account of the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Gaganyaan spacecraft will be placed in a low earth orbit (LEO) of 300-400 kilometers.
- The total program cost is expected to be under Rs.10000 crore.
- Gaganyaan is significant because it is the first indigenous mission that will send Indian astronauts to space. If it succeeds, India will be the fourth country to have sent a human to space, the other three being the US, Russia, and China.
- ISRO is developing the spacecraft and Russia is helping to train the astronauts.
The success of Gaganyaan can lead to many more experiments with spaceflight missions. It will also give a flip to India’s dream of setting up its space station.
Gaganyaan Spacecraft & Launch Vehicle
- The spacecraft consists of a service module and a crew module, collectively known as the Orbital Module.
- The launch vehicle used for this mission will be the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk III. GSLV Mk III has the required payload capacity for the mission.
- The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)-III is a launch vehicle conceived and designed to make ISRO fully self-reliant in launching heavier satellites.
- It is designed to be a three-stage vehicle, with the first stage comprising two Large Solid boosters with solid propellants, that are strapped onto the second stage, the re-startable liquid stage. The third stage is the Liquid Oxygen/ Liquid Hydrogen cryogenic stage.
- ISRO successfully tested GSLV Mk-III, now called LVM-3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3), in an experimental flight in December 2014.
- Then, in June 2017, ISRO successfully launched the first “developmental” flight of LVM-3, which carried the GSAT-19 satellite into space.
- The LVM-3 is the declared launch vehicle for taking the manned crew module into space.
- Over the next few years, many more flights of GSLV are scheduled. These will help ISRO in perfecting the cryogenic technology for sending up heavier and heavier payloads.
What tests are planned as a part of the mission?
- Integrated Air Drop Tests- It involve dropping a simulated crew module from an aircraft and deploying parachutes to slow down its descent and land safely in the sea.
- The tests also verify the performance of the flotation system.
- Test Vehicle Missions- It involve launching a single-stage liquid propulsion rocket, equipped with a crew module and a crew escape system.
- Test Vehicle Abort Mission-1 (TV-D1) was successfully demonstrated by the ISRO recently.
- Pad Abort Tests (PAT)- This is a test of a launch escape system, which is designed to quickly get the crew and spacecraft away from the rocket in case of an emergency on the launch pad.
- Uncrewed mission- Its purpose is technology demonstration, safety and reliability verification, and studying the performance of systems before crewed flight.
- Manned flight mission- It carries human crew members who operate its control and perform various tasks.
What are the benefits of undertaking the Gaganyaan mission?
- Future explorations– It will make progress towards a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond.
- Technology– Advanced technology capability for undertaking human space exploration, sample return missions, and scientific exploration.
- Future capability– To actively collaborate in global space station development & to carry out scientific experiments of interest to the nation.
- Partnership– Create a broad framework for wider Academia–Industry partnership in taking up development activities for national development.
- Job creation– It provides an ample scope for employment generation and human resource development in advanced science and R&D activities.
- Foster scientific temper– It will provide a unique opportunity to inspire and excite Indian youth and steer many students towards careers in science and technology.
- Global leader -The program will strengthen international partnerships and global security through the sharing of challenging and peaceful goals.
Having a vibrant human spaceflight program can be leveraged as a potent foreign policy.