The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) conducted the third significant phase of the ambitious Gaganyaan Mission, aimed at sending Indian astronauts into space. A liquid-propelled single-stage Test Vehicle (TV-D1) took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, venturing on a short yet crucial flight, carrying a homegrown system essential for the safety of Indian astronauts- the Crew Escape System.
What is the Gaganyaan mission about?
The Gaganyaan mission is India’s ambitious venture into space which aims to demonstrate India’s proficiency in human spaceflight by launching a crew of three members to an orbital altitude of 400 kilometers for a mission lasting three days and safely return the astronauts to Earth, with a precision landing in the Indian sea waters.
Named after the Sanskrit term for ‘craft or vehicle to the sky’, the Gaganyaan project has been executed at a cost of ₹90 billion. If this mission succeeds, India will become the fourth nation in history, after the Soviet Union, the US, and China, to achieve human spaceflight capabilities.
How did the Failure Test Take Place?
The TV-D1, powered by liquid propulsion, took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre and embarked on a brief yet important flight, carrying a Crew Escape System that is important for the safety of Indian astronauts.
The test validated that the motors to be used during the mission included low-altitude, high-altitude, and jettisoning motors that will be used for the safety of the astronauts in case of emergency. ISRO chief S Somnath has confirmed that the mission was completed and objectives achieved.
Initially delayed due to unfavorable weather conditions, the launch occurred at 10 a.m. The flight sequence activated the system for fin control, Crew Escape, and High Energy Motor, with the Crew Escape System detaching at Mach 1.21 and 11.9 km altitude. Nearly 61.1 seconds after the launch, the Crew Module separated at 16.9km, deploying a drogue parachute for descent.
ISRO said, “Mission Gaganyaan TV D1 Test Flight is accomplished as intended with Crew Escape System performed as intended and Mission Gaganyaan gets on a successful note.”
What is a Crew Escape System?
The Crew Escape System plays an important role in safeguarding astronauts during spaceflight variations. However, in crewed rocket missions, precision and scientific understanding are of utmost importance.
This system operates automatically, activating upon computer detection of malfunctions or issues shortly after liftoff, before rocket stage separation. Although not a new concept, it stands as an indispensable tool used by space agencies worldwide for the protection of astronauts venturing into space.
This technology provides a vital layer of safety by swiftly ejecting the crew, thereby minimizing potential risks during the turbulent initial stages of ascent.