Four Indian Air Force (IAF) test pilots have been chosen by ISRO to be astronaut-designates for the first crewed trip as part of the Gaganyaan Programme. Bengaluru is where they are receiving instruction.
By 2040, Indian astronauts will be on the moon, according to S Somanath, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). As part of the Gaganyaan program, Somanath informed Malayala Manorama, a Malayalam morning daily, that the Indian space agency intends to send two to three Indian astronauts to low-Earth orbit for up to three days before safely returning them to a pre-decided spot in Indian waters. These specifics were disclosed by the ISRO Chief in a Manorama Yearbook 2024 exclusive piece. It is Malaya Manorama’s yearly information encyclopedia.
Four Indian Air Force (IAF) test pilots have been chosen by ISRO to be astronaut-designates for the first crewed trip as part of the Gaganyaan Programme. According to Somanath, the astronaut-designates are presently training at the Astronaut Training Facility (ATF) in Bengaluru in accordance with their unique missions.
Gaganyaan’s first crewed mission
Indian astronauts will take off on their first crewed mission as part of the Gaganyaan programme, atop a human-rated Launch Vehicle Mark III (LVM3), in an Orbital Module. This implies that the launch vehicle needs to be able to transport people into space safely. The Orbital Module will include life support systems and consist of a Crew Module and a Service Module.
The Crew Module will allow the astronauts to safely reenter Earth’s atmosphere by providing an environment akin to Earth. In the event of an emergency, the astronauts will be able to escape the spacecraft thanks to a Crew Escape System.
Two identical uncrewed missions, a pad abort test, an integrated air drop test, and test vehicle flights will all be carried out before to the first crewed mission.
On October 21, 2023, ISRO launched the Gaganyaan program’s first unmanned flight mission. The mission, carrying an unmanned Crew Module and a Crew Escape System, was named the Test Vehicle Development Flight (TV-D1) or Test Vehicle Abort Flight. It blasted off from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. Gaganyaan TV-D1 is a significant mission because it showed how well the Crew Escape System functions.
The Crew Escape System was shown to be aborted in-flight, meaning that it was abandoned while the Crew Module was in the air. After splashing down in the Bay of Bengal, the Crew Module was found and recovered safely.
In the report, Somanath stated that the success of TV-D1 was essential for both the next round of unmanned flights and the final human space mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2025.
The significance of Aditya-L1
Aditya-L1, India’s first space-based solar observatory dedicated to studying the Sun, is a critical mission for the Indian space agency, according to the ISRO Chief. The reason for this is that the spacecraft will be positioned in a Halo orbit around Lagrange point 1 (L1k), a unique vantage point that will give Aditya-L1 a continuous view of the Sun and enable fuel conservation because, at this point, the spacecraft’s centripetal force will be balanced by the gravitational forces acting on it from the Earth and the Sun. 1.5 million kilometers separate L1 from Earth. Aditya-L1 is scheduled to launch in January 2024 and operate for five years, arriving at the halo orbit.
ISRO’s future space missions
In addition, Somanath highlighted a number of significant upcoming projects, such as the Space Docking Experiment, the Liquid Oxygen-Methane Engine Experiment, the X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPOSAT) launch, the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) program, and others.
According to the head of ISRO, these ground-breaking projects usher in a new chapter in India’s space exploration history by advancing science and broadening our understanding of the cosmos.
A three-stage launch vehicle called SSLV can place payloads into an orbit that is 500 kilometers in length and up to 500 kg in weight.
To meet the needs of the expanding global market for small satellite launch services, ISRO developed SSLV. It is possible for SSLV to launch on demand.
In 2024, ISRO plans to launch XPOSAT. With two scientific payloads going into low-Earth orbit, it is India’s first dedicated polarimetry mission to investigate the various dynamics of intense astronomical X-ray sources under harsh circumstances.
Autonomous docking will be demonstrated by the Space Docking Experiment, or SPADEX. It will showcase the technologies needed to manage one spacecraft from the docked spacecraft’s attitude control system and dock two spacecraft, Chaser and Target. Chaser and Target will be split up after docking so they can carry out specific experiments with their cargo. This project is significant because it will enable ISRO to carry out lunar sample return missions and future planetary missions that will allow for crew transfers in space.
It is anticipated to debut in 2024’s third quarter.
The goal is to create a methane fuel engine that runs on liquid oxygen oxidizers, or LOX-Methane engines. It is anticipated that the engine would aid in the launch of spacecraft that will enable people to investigate the environments of planets like Mars.
Additionally, carbon dioxide and water can be used in space to synthesize methane. Put differently, it is possible to use in-situ resources in space.
India’s own space station
According to Somanath, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declared that the Bharatiya Antariksha Station, India’s space station, will be put into service by 2035.
India intends to send a mission to Venus as well. The intended mission, called Shukrayaan-1, is to investigate Venus’s surface and atmosphere. The Satish Dhawan Space Centre will launch an orbiter to Venus on a GSLV Mark III rocket. There will be a four-year mission.
Studying surface stratigraphy—a branch of science that examines rock layers—as well as atmospheric chemistry and solar wind interaction with Venus’s ionosphere are the mission’s goals.
It is anticipated that Shukrayaan-1 would launch in December 2024.
The second interplanetary project of ISRO, Mangalyaan-2, also known as Mars Orbiter project 2 (MOM 2), is scheduled for launch in 2025. This mission is the continuation of Mars Orbiter Mission 1, also known as Mangalyaan-1 (MOM 1).
A year is the suggested period for the mission.
The Mangalyaan-2 mission will have a single orbiter.
From Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Mangalyaan-2 will be launched atop a GSLV Mark III rocket.
In the article, Somanath came to the conclusion that ISRO is a power to be reckoned with because of the missions it launches and the discoveries it makes.