Gaganyaan passes maiden test with flying colours
As planned, the crew module - which will have the astronauts - made a controlled splashdown in the sea 10km off Sriharikota.
SRIHARIKOTA: ISRO on Saturday overcame tense moments to successfully carry out the maiden test on the Gaganyaan programme - India’s first human spacecraft mission - as the test vehicle (TV-D1) demonstrated the crew escape system’s performance during an in-flight emergency.
As planned, the crew module - which will have the astronauts - made a controlled splashdown in the sea 10km off Sriharikota. Buoyed by the success, ISRO chairman S Somanath announced the space agency would launch the first unmanned Gaganyaan vehicle in the first quarter of 2024. This is in line with the space agency’s plan to send three astronauts to low earth orbit and bring them back safely by 2025.
Nervous 2 hours
The launch was originally scheduled for 8 am, but postponed to 8.30 am and 8.45 am, due to misty and cloudy conditions. But, five seconds before lift-off the onboard computer withheld the launch after it detected an anomaly. In the next 30-40 minutes, the scientists managed to fix the anomaly and the mission director gave the automated launch authorisation for lift-off at 10 am. Somanath said the initial hiccup was due to a “monitoring anomaly in the system”.
Major objectives achieved
Gaganyaan test vehicle launch, which lasted under 9 minutes, fulfilled all major objectives. The crew module separated at an altitude of 17km and deployed different kinds of parachutes to decelerate the descent speed from 363m/s to 8.5m/s.
“The crew escape system took the crew module away from the vehicle, and subsequent operations, including the touch-down at sea, have been well accomplished and we have confirmation for all of this,” Somanath said. Mission director S Sivakumar said, “We had been at penance for the last 3 to 4 years. We are very happy to be able to do it on the very first attempt.”
Mission objectives - flight demonstration, evaluation of test vehicles, crew escape systems, crew module characteristics, and deceleration systems demonstration at higher altitude and its recovery - were all met with precision, ISRO said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the launch takes us one step closer to realising India’s first human space flight programme. Science and Technology. Chief Minister MK Stalin lauded ISRO. “This achievement marks a significant milestone on India’s journey to space exploration,” he said.