On Wednesday (13 December), ISRO chairman S Somanath announced that the space agency has made a decision to indigenously develop the Environmental Control and Life support system (ECLSS) for the upcoming human space flight mission Gaganyaan.
This decision comes after the Indian space agency's unsuccessful attempt to acquire it from foreign countries.
The Gaganyaan project, expected to launch in 2025, is designed to showcase the human spaceflight capabilities of the Indian Space Research Organisation. The mission involves sending a human crew into an orbit of 400 km and then safely returning them to Earth, with a landing planned in Indian sea waters.
"We have no experience in developing an environmental control life support system. We were only designing rockets and satellites. We thought that this knowledge would come from other nations, but unfortunately, after so much discussion, nobody is willing to give it to us," Somanath said while delivering a speech at fifth Manohar Parrikar Vidnyan Mahotsav 2023 held in Dona Paula, news agency PTI reported.
This event was organised by Goa's Department of Science, Environment, and Technology.
Somanath announced that the decision has been made by ISRO to develop the ECLSS domestically.
"We are going to develop it in India using the knowledge we have and the industries that we have," he said.
Discussing the hurdles facing the Gaganyaan programme, he mentioned that India has been cultivating knowledge and developing design capabilities for many years. The apex of these efforts will be the Indian human space flight programme.
"When we send humans to space through our Gaganyan programme, I think the amount of skill and confidence that we need to have has to be higher than what we currently have," he said.
Somanath said that the confidence-building process is happening all across ISRO today with the support of national laboratories.
He expressed that there's an inherent risk with rockets, as they are perpetually prone to failure.
Each time a rocket is prepared for launch, "our tension and heartbeats go up because even if the rocket is built very safely with all the processes followed, something can still go wrong," he said.
"And if it goes wrong, then there is nobody who is able to correct it or adjust it. Thousands of elements should work without any flaw to make a launch happen," he said.
Somanath expressed that the possibility of failure is ever-present.
"When you have a failure possibility, then you must have protection against it in human space flight. This is a core of human space flight-that we should not put the risk of having the astronaut lost due to the failure in the rocket," he said.
"So it calls for intelligence in the rocket. This is what we are working on today," he said.
The people in the new generation understand what intelligence is and how to create intelligence in machinery through censors, data processing, and artificial intelligence to create signals of various natures, and then come to the conclusion that the rocket is going to fly safely or it is going to fail, he added.
Somanath stated that when faced with failure, the decision must be made in less than a split second.
"Then you have to tell the rocket that you are going to fail now and that you better abort even before failure happens. This is a challenge of working on intelligence in the rocket, and we are working on such technologies today, looking at the data that is available in measurements and then making a synthesis of it," he said.
Somanath revealed that numerous innovative technologies are currently being developed by ISRO to manage human space flight.
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