India is gearing up for a crucial test flight of an unmanned crew module of the Gaganyaan mission, which aims to send three astronauts to outer space by 2024. The test flight, named TV-D1, will demonstrate the performance of the crew escape system, which is designed to ensure the safety of the astronauts in case of an emergency during launch.
The test flight will take place on October 21, 2023, between 7 am and 9 am from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The crew module will be launched by a single-stage liquid rocket and will reach an altitude of about 120 km. It will then separate from the rocket and descend back to earth using parachutes. It will splash down in the Bay of Bengal, where it will be recovered by the Indian Navy.
The test flight will be a key milestone for India’s human space flight project, which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018. The project aims to demonstrate India’s capability to launch and operate a manned spacecraft in low earth orbit for a duration of three days. India will join an elite club of countries that have achieved human space flight, including Russia, the US, and China.
A series of demonstrator missions before the manned mission
Before India launches its first manned Gaganyaan mission, there will be several demonstrator missions to test various aspects of the spacecraft and its systems. These include an integrated air drop test, a pad abort test, and two unmanned orbital flights.
The first unmanned orbital flight, scheduled for next year, will carry Vyommitra, a female robot astronaut, who will perform some experiments and communicate with the ground station. The second unmanned orbital flight, planned for 2024, will carry a human-like dummy and some scientific payloads.
The manned mission, expected to take place later in 2024, will carry three Indian astronauts, who are currently undergoing training in Russia. They will be selected from a pool of test pilots from the Indian Air Force. The astronauts will orbit the earth at an altitude of 400 km for three days and conduct some experiments related to microgravity and life sciences.
A breakthrough for India’s space programme
The Gaganyaan project is not only a scientific endeavour but also a national pride for India. It will showcase India’s technological prowess and innovation in the field of space exploration. It will also inspire the young generation to pursue careers in science and engineering.
The project is being executed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), with the support of various other agencies and institutions. The project has a budget of Rs 10,000 crore and is expected to generate employment opportunities and economic benefits for the country.
The project is also part of India’s broader vision to become a major player in the global space arena. India has already achieved several milestones in space exploration, such as launching satellites for communication, navigation, earth observation, and scientific research; sending probes to the moon and Mars; and testing anti-satellite weapons. The Gaganyaan project will further enhance India’s reputation and influence in the space domain.