ISRO's TV-D1 test flight of Mission Gaganyaan sits at the launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Station, in Sriharikota. (PTI Photo)
TIRUPATI: In one of the biggest tests as part of the Gaganyaan mission to send Indian astronauts into space, the Indian Space Research Organisation will test the efficacy of the crew escape module at 8 am on Saturday.
Exciting as it is, the second test flight next year will be bigger: It will carry Vyommitra, a female robot that can speak in English and Hindi. She is expected to perform experiments on a variety of subjects on board, including on microgravity. During human flight, she is expected to assist the ‘gagannauts’
On Saturday, the module, the same size and weight as the actual vehicle that will carry the astronauts, will be launched on a rocket to a height of 17 km, from the spaceport at Sriharikota. At the target height, the module will be ejected, to simulate an emergency. It is expected to land safely in the Bay of Bengal and will be recovered by a Navy ship.
If all goes well, the module will be safe and sound, indicating that it is useable by human astronauts. More tests will be required before the module will be certified for human use, but the second test will be more interesting.
Announcing the road map for the Gaganyaan mission — Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of 2025 for an Indian in space — Isro chairman S. Somanath said there will be three additional test missions following Saturday’s launch of TV-D1 (Test Vehicle Development-1).
"Another test flight is planned for next year, which will carry Vyommitra, a female robot astronaut," Somnath stated.
The TV-D1 mission will serve as a stepping stone to achieve India's goal of demonstrating human spaceflight capabilities, carrying a crew of three members into an orbit of 400 km for a three-day mission before safely returning them to Earth, Isro stated.
Key prerequisites for the Gaganyaan mission include the development of critical technologies, including a human-rated launch vehicle, life support systems, crew emergency escape provisions, and crew management aspects for training, recovery and rehabilitation.
Saturday’s TV-D1, to be launched on a single-stage liquid-fuelled rocket, carries the crew module, which will be unpressurised, unlike the real one, and the crew escape systems (CES).
The mission will simulate an abort condition during ascent, when the rocket will reach 1.2 times the speed of sound. It is extensively instrumented to capture flight data for evaluating performances of various systems.
"Before the actual human Space slight mission, various precursor missions, including integrated air drop test, pad abort test and test vehicle flights have been planned, Isro said. The Gaganyaan mission will be launched by India’s most powerful rocket, the LVM3.