According to the report, ISRO will launch the first test flight of the Gaganyaan mission in February 2023
The Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, will launch a series of test flights for India’s first manned space mission from February next year, a senior official told the Press Trust of India today.
The space agency also plans to use the Chinook heavy-lift helicopter and C-17 Globemaster transport plane to test the crew module that will carry astronauts into orbit for three days as part of the Gaganyaan manned space mission, R Umamaheshwaran, director of ISRO’s Human Space Flight Center , said.
Speaking at the India Space Congress in New Delhi, he said ISRO scientists have completed the design of the Environment Control System that will ensure the environmental conditions for astronauts in the crew service module as they orbit the Earth.
ISRO is planning at least 17 different tests over the next year before conducting the unmanned space flight in December next year.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Gaganyaan Mission in his 2018 Independence Day address with a tentative goal of achieving it in 2022 when the country completes 75 years of freedom from colonial rule.
However, the Covid pandemic has caused several delays and the first Indian astronauts are expected to make their first spaceflight in late 2024 or early 2025.
Mr Umamaheshwaran said the task of designing the crew module and environmental control system is challenging because the astronauts should be comfortable even during the re-entry phase when temperatures outside the space capsule could reach over 2000 degrees Celsius.
“The crew module, in which the astronauts will sit and fly, has been completed and manufacturing work is underway. We will get the crew module within six months,” he said on the sidelines of the SatCom Industry Association event.
Mr. Umamaheshwaran said the environmental control system is a critical element of the project as it provides environmental conditions in the crew module.
“We have to provide oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, remove moisture, maintain temperature and also make sure there is no risk of fire. This is a very complex technology that no country would give us,” he said.
The senior scientist said it was decided to develop the environmental control system domestically.
“We have the ability to design, so we do that and it just takes a little bit of time. We finished all design and now it’s time to prove that everything designed is safe enough. That’s the whole effort,” said Mr. Umamaheshwaran.
He said that four spaceflight candidates had been shortlisted and had already completed their initial training in Russia.
The shortlisted astronauts are currently undergoing advanced training at the Astronaut Training Facility in Bengaluru, he said.