The test crew module for India’s Gaganyaan programme, which will be used for the validation of various crew capsule subsystems, is ready.
The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have the “simulated crew module structure assembly” from the Hyderabad-based manufacturer Manjira Machine Builders. The handover ceremony took place on 24 February in Hyderabad.
Developed by VSSC, this simulated crew module is an unpressurised chamber, unlike the pressurised one in which Gaganyaan astronauts will be housed for India’s landmark spaceflight mission.
However, this test module simulates the shape, outer mold line, and interfaces of major systems, like the parachute systems and pyros, of the actual crewed mission configuration.
It will be used for simulating and validating various systems and subsystems associated with the Gaganyaan programme and, in particular, the actual crew capsule.
The crew escape system will be validated using this test module, besides a host of other subsystems of the crew capsule.
This testing is important to ensure crew safety on the actual mission. If anything goes wrong mid-flight, the crew would be able to eject along with the crew module in which they will be seated — this is part of the plan.
Two test vehicle missions are planned before the uncrewed ‘G1’ mission to demonstrate the performance of the crew escape system and parachute-based deceleration system for different flight conditions.
The test vehicle missions are among the major demonstration missions lined up this year, including the integrated air drop test and pad abort test.
As per a , the uncrewed ‘G1’ mission is set for launch in the last quarter of 2023. The second uncrewed ‘G2’ mission will follow in the second quarter of 2024, and the human spaceflight ‘H1’ mission will take flight finally in the fourth quarter of 2024.
The ‘G1’ mission, carrying a humanoid as a payload, will validate the performance of the human-rated launch vehicle, orbital module propulsion system, mission management, communication system, and recovery operations.
The Gaganyaan programme aims to demonstrate India’s human spaceflight capability. A three-member crew will be launched to an orbit of 400 km for a three-day mission before being brought back safely down to Earth. They will land at sea in India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the programme in his Independence Day address of 2018.
In a recent development, ISRO and the Indian Navy on 7 February carried out of the crew module at the Water Survival Test Facility (WSTF) in Kochi, Kerala, as part of mission preparations.
Safe recovery of the crew will be the critical final step as part of India’s maiden human spaceflight mission. Trials will move from a closed pool (the WSTF trial) to a harbour and eventually to the open sea.
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