ISRO’s Inflight Abort Test Nears for Gaganyaan Crew Escape System

ISRO's Inflight Abort Test Nears for Gaganyaan Crew Escape System
ISRO's Inflight Abort Test Nears for Gaganyaan Crew Escape System
ISRO's Inflight Abort Test Nears for Gaganyaan Crew Escape System
ISRO's Inflight Abort Test Nears for Gaganyaan Crew Escape System

ISRO’s Inflight Abort Test Nears for Gaganyaan Crew Escape System

ISRO’s Inflight Abort Test Nears for Gaganyaan Crew Escape System

ISRO’s Inflight Abort Test Nears for Gaganyaan Crew Escape System

ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) is on the verge of conducting a crucial inflight abort test for the crew escape system (CES) as part of its ambitious Gaganyaan human spaceflight program. Scheduled for the end of this month, the test will utilize a specially developed test vehicle. S Unnikrishnan Nair, the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), which plays a pivotal role in ISRO’s endeavors, provided insights into the preparations for this milestone.

Test Vehicle for Critical Scenarios

The CES holds paramount importance within the Gaganyaan program, as it is designed to ensure the safety of astronauts in case of an emergency during the mission. The upcoming test launch, known as TV-D1, marks the first of four planned abort missions for Gaganyaan. This will be followed by the TV-D2 mission and the first uncrewed mission of Gaganyaan (LVM3-G1). Subsequently, a second series of test vehicle missions (TV-D3 & D4) and the LVM3-G2 mission with robotic payload are scheduled. The timeline for the crewed mission will depend on the success of these earlier missions.

Versatile Test Vehicle with Space Tourism Potential

The test vehicle being employed is a single-stage rocket powered by liquid propulsion, designed to validate the CES performance under various critical conditions. Beyond its role in the Gaganyaan program, it holds potential for other applications, including space tourism. Nair explained that the test vehicle would be taken to transonic conditions, reaching a Mach number of approximately 1.2, at an altitude of around 12 km. At this point, the escape system will be activated, propelling it to about 20 km, where the crew module will be released.

Nair emphasized the versatility of the test vehicle, suggesting that it could be used for space tourism if there is interest from the industry. The Crew Module, which is an integral part of this endeavor, is designed to provide a habitable environment in space, equipped with various systems to support astronauts during their mission, including avionics, life support, and deceleration systems.

Gaganyaan’s Ambitious Goals

ISRO’s Gaganyaan project aims to demonstrate India’s capability to send a crew of two to three members into a circular orbit approximately 400 km above Earth for missions lasting one to three days, ensuring their safe return by landing in designated locations in the Indian sea waters. The launch vehicle for Gaganyaan is the LVM3 rocket, adapted to meet human rating requirements, and is referred to as Human Rated LVM3 (HLVM3).

Nair clarified that the LVM3 rocket is not suitable for CES validation tests due to its high cost. Instead, the specially developed test vehicle serves this essential purpose.

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