Gaganyaan mission is the third big success for Isro in eight weeks, beginning with the successful Moon landing of Chandrayaan-3 on August 23 and the launch of Aditya L1 to study the Sun on September 2. (Image: Twitter)
Tirupati: The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) achieved its third significant milestone in two months on Saturday with the successful completion of its first test of the Gaganyaan mission — an in-flight abort of the crew escape system (CES) moments after launch, followed by safe recovery of the unmanned crew module (CM) that weighed 4,520 kg.
This the third big success for Isro in eight weeks, beginning with the successful Moon landing of Chandrayaan-3 on August 23 and the launch of Aditya L1 to study the Sun on September 2.
Saturday’s test overcame two delays, the first caused by weather and the second by an issue with the ignition system which the space scientists quickly fixed.
Third time lucky, the single stage rocket carrying the CES lifted off at 10 am and the activity began about a minute afterwards.
The rocket reached a speed of 1.2 times the speed of sound, and ejected the crew escape system at a height of 11.7 km. Moments later, the parachutes on the CES were deployed and they slowed down its descent.
The crew module landed in the Bay of Bengal about 10 km from the shore and was recovered by a Navy ship. The test was over in about nine and a half minutes. The instruments in the module will be studied.
Announcing the success of the mission, ISRO chief S. Somanath said that the crew module and CES separation had been achieved as intended. The module has been taken to the Chennai Naval base
The Indian Navy said in a statement: "Eastern Naval Command units recovered the crew module — a path paved by extensive planning, training of Naval divers, formulation of standard operating procedures (SOP) and joint communication by combined teams of Navy and Isro," in the evening.
At the launch centre, Somanath stated, "During this test vehicle demonstration, the vehicle reached a Mach number slightly above the speed of sound and initiated an abort condition to test the crew escape system."
He said that the CES effectively separated the CM from the vehicle, and the subsequent procedures, including the successful sea landing, were executed flawlessly. "We have received confirmation of the data for all these operations", he added and extended his congratulations to the scientists following the successful touchdown of the crew escape module.
Mission director S. Sivakumar described the accomplishment as a unique endeavour. He compared it to a combination of three experiments, emphasising that the mission had provided valuable insights into the performance of all three systems, all of which operated effectively.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the successful launch, in a message on X (Twitter), stating that the milestone brought India closer to the realisation of its human space flight programme, Gaganyaan.
The TV-D1 is the first of four planned tests aimed at testing systems for the manned space mission in 2025. This specific test was focused on the crew module, a vital payload designed to provide a safe environment for the mission's crew. The Gaganyaan Mission aims to send Indian astronauts into space and establish India as a spacefaring nation capable of human spaceflight.