Gaganyaan: ISRO Tests Out Deployment Of Pilot And ACS Parachutes At DRDO Lab In Chandigarh

Karan Kamble

Mar 08, 2023, 10:48 AM | Updated 10:48 AM IST

Pilot and ACS parachute tests (Photos: ISRO)
Pilot and ACS parachute tests (Photos: ISRO)
  • The Gaganyaan deceleration system consists of three main parachutes, in addition to the smaller ACS, pilot, and drogue parachutes.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) conducted parachute deployment tests as part of its preparation for the Gaganyaan mission.

    Two parachutes (among others) that will be used in the mission — pilot parachutes and apex cover separation (ACS) parachutes — were tested on 1 and 3 March at the Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory, Chandigarh.

    Both the pilot and ACS parachutes have a key role to play in the Gaganyaan mission. The pilot parachutes will spring into action when the main parachutes have to be extracted and deployed independently. The ACS parachutes will be used for the separation of the apex cover mounted on the crew module.

    ISRO said the parachutes underwent “Rail Track Rocket Sled deployment tests,” referring to the two major components of the testing platform. Further, both the parachute types were deployed using a pyrotechnic mortar device.

    The first and second tests simulated the clustered deployment of two pilot parachutes and two ACS parachutes respectively.

    In the pilot parachute test, two parachutes underwent contrasting conditions — one was subjected to a minimum angle with respect to flow conditions, and the other, to a maximum angle.

    The ACS parachute test simulated the clustered deployment of two parachutes under maximum dynamic pressure conditions. “The test also simulated clustered deployment at a 90-degree angle of attack conditions for the crew module,” ISRO noted.

    Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, and Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE), Agra, have jointly developed the Gaganyaan parachute system.

    VSSC is the lead centre for Gaganyaan activities.

    The Gaganyaan deceleration system consists of three main parachutes, in addition to the smaller ACS, pilot, and drogue parachutes. Together, they are meant to reduce the speed of the crew module to safe levels during its landing.

    Two of the three main parachutes are sufficient to successfully land the astronauts, and the third one is redundant. The Integrated Main Parachute Airdrop Test (IMAT), carried out in November 2022, simulated the case when one chute fails to open.

    Many integrated parachute airdrop tests are lined up to simulate various failure conditions of the parachute system before the chutes get the nod for use in India’s maiden human spaceflight mission.

    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.

    The launch with astronauts is pencilled in for the fourth quarter of 2024.

    India will look to achieve success with its Gaganyaan mission before shifting its focus later towards developing capability for sustained human presence in space.

    Also Read: From Reusable Launch Vehicle To Gaganyaan, ISRO Launches To Look Forward To This Year After SSLV Success

    Karan Kamble writes on science and technology. He occasionally wears the hat of a video anchor for Swarajya's online video programmes.

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