On the occasion of its 91st anniversary, the Indian Air Force (IAF) shared visuals of two astronauts who are set to be part of the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Gaganyaan, India's first human spaceflight programme.
The identities of the two astronauts are yet to be revealed. The visuals shared by the IAF show the duo training and did not reveal their faces. Reports confirmed that these men in the video are part of the Gaganyaan mission. The mission is expected to launch in early 2024.
Speaking about the Gaganyaan mission, ISRO has earlier said that the project envisages demonstration of human spaceflight capability by launching a crew of two or three members to an orbit of 400 km for a 3 day mission and bringing them back safely to earth, by landing in Indian sea waters.
Gaganyaan is a crewed orbital spacecraft intended to be the formative spacecraft of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme. Earlier, ISRO successfully conducted a series of tests on drogue parachutes, which would play a pivotal role in stabilising the crew module and reducing its velocity to a safe level during re-entry in the planned mission.
The Gaganyaan mission hopes to safely transport astronauts to Space and back. The first crewed mission was originally planned to be launched on ISRO's LVM3 in December 2021. According to reports, ISRO was aiming for a 2025 launch of Gaganyaan.
The Indian Air Force had identified four fighter pilots in 2022 as the potential crew for the human space flight mission. The potential crew had undergone basic training in Russia.
Officials said during the test mission, the spacecraft will be launched to an altitude of 15 km during which space scientists will simulate an abort scenario to ensure the return crew capsule to the Earth using parachutes. The second orbital test flight will take the Gaganyaan crew capsule to a higher altitude and undergo a similar abort scenario to perfect the system.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Gaganyaan mission in his Independence Day address in 2018 at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore. ISRO also plans to launch the Chandrayaan-3 mission to the moon sometime next year.
Gaganyaan's first test vehicle mission
An ISRO official informed in September that the space agency will launch the first test vehicle mission of Gaganyaan in a month or two. "... immediately what we are now targeting is to validate the crew escape system. In a month or two, the mission will take place from Sriharikota," Gaganyaan Project Director R Hutton said at an international space conference.
The first test vehicle mission, TV-D1, would be followed by the second test vehicle TV-D2 mission and the first uncrewed mission of Gaganyaan (LVM3-G1). The second series of test vehicle missions (TV-D3& D4) and LVM3-G2 mission with robotic payload is planned next.
The pre-requisites for the Gaganyaan mission include the development of many critical technologies including a human-rated launch vehicle for carrying the crew safely to space, a Life Support System to provide an earth-like environment to the crew in space, crew emergency escape provision and evolving crew management aspects for training, recovery and rehabilitation of crew.
Various precursor missions are planned to demonstrate 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. The safety and reliability of all systems will be proven in unmanned missions preceding the manned mission.
(with agency inputs)