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Gaganyaan: ISRO's first human space flight programme

Trials as part of the preparation for Crew Module recovery operations for the Gaganyaan mission. Photo: ISRO.

Credit: From ISRO

GAGANYAAN project envisages demonstration of human spaceflight capability by launching a crew of three members to an orbit of 400 km for a three-day mission and bring them back safely to earth, by landing in Indian waters, according to ISRO.

The Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) is responsible for the implementation of GAGANYAAN Project which involves end-to-end mission planning, development of Engineering systems for crew survival in space, crew selection & training and also pursue activities for sustained human space flight missions.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the GAGANYAAN project is accomplished through an optimal strategy by considering inhouse expertise, experience of Indian industry, intellectual capabilities of Indian academia & research institutions along with cutting edge technologies available with international agencies. The pre-requisites for Gaganyaan mission include development of many critical technologies including human rated launch vehicle for carrying crew safely to space, Life Support System to provide an earth like environment to crew in space, crew emergency escape provision and evolving crew management aspects for training, recovery and rehabilitation of crew.

Various precursor missions are planned for demonstrating the Technology Preparedness Levels before carrying out the actual Human Space Flight mission. These demonstrator missions include Integrated Air Drop Test (IADT), Pad Abort Test (PAT) and Test Vehicle (TV) flights. Safety and reliability of all systems will be proven in unmanned missions preceding manned mission.

Human rated LVM3 - HLVM3, the heavy lift launcher of ISRO, is identified as the launch vehicle for Gaganyaan mission. It consists of solid stage, liquid stage and cryogenic stage. All systems in LVM3 launch vehicle are re-configured to meet human rating requirements and christened Human Rated LVM3. HLVM3 will be capable of launching the Orbital Module to an intended Low Earth Orbit of 400 km.

HLVM3 consists of Crew Escape System (CES) powered by a set of quick acting, high burn rate solid motors which ensures that Crew Module along with crew is taken to a safe distance in case of any emergency either at launch pad or during ascent phase.

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will provide Special Space food, crew health monitoring and emergency survival kit to the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Human Space Mission. According to officials, both ISRO and DRDO have an MoU in place to provide all necessary support for the Human Space Mission which includes critical technologies like radiation measurement and protection, parachutes for the safe recovery of the crew module and fire suppression system.

In Nov 2022, ISRO completed major development test of its Gaganyaan Parachute System. According to a press release by ISRO, the design and development of the Parachute based Deceleration system for Crew module is a joint venture between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and with this test, a significant milestone toward realising the nation's ambitious Gaganyaan project is achieved with the active coordination between the country’s premier agencies, namely ISRO, DRDO, the Indian Air Force, and the Indian Army.

HAL has and will continue to play a significant role in India's current and future space programme including the Gaganyaan manned mission to space, given the skills and knowledge base within the company. In Apr 2022, HAL handed over the first set of Gaganyaan hardware to the ISRO for India's maiden manned mission to space. In Aug 2022, ISRO received Crew Module Fairing (CMF) & High-altitude escape motor Thrust-transfer Structure (HTS) hardware for the 1st development flight of Gaganyaan from HAL in Bengaluru.


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