The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set to embark on a series of test vehicle missions as part of the ambitious Gaganyaan programme, following the inaugural TV-D1 test flight scheduled for 21 October.
Under the Gaganyaan project's purview, India aims to demonstrate its human spaceflight capability by launching a crew into a 400-km orbit and safely returning them to Earth, with a landing in Indian sea waters.
The first test vehicle flight, TV-D1, will take place at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, with a focus on evaluating the crew module intended to house Indian astronauts during the upcoming human spaceflight endeavour, slated for late next year.
ISRO Chairman S Somanath announced these developments during a media briefing in Madurai, where he was attending events in Rameswaram.
Beyond the maiden TV-D1 mission, ISRO has outlined plans for three additional test missions — D2, D3, and D4.
These missions will involve comprehensive testing and validation exercises as part of the test flight sequence.
The TV-D1 mission's objectives encompass launching the crew module into outer space, orchestrating its return to Earth, and ensuring safe recovery upon touchdown in the Bay of Bengal.
Addressing the status of the Aditya-L1 solar programme, Somanath expressed optimism that the spacecraft would reach Lagrange point 1 (L1) around mid-January 2024, after which various scientific experiments will follow.
Regarding ISRO's plans to establish an additional launch pad in Kulasekarapattinam, Tuticorin district, Somanath highlighted the potential benefits of this development.
The new launch pad will facilitate the launch of smaller rockets and serve private players in the space sector.
Somanath explained that the existing launch pad in Sriharikota requires larger rockets, like the PSLV (polar satellite launch vehicle), to alter their trajectory southwards over Sri Lanka during launch.
In contrast, Kulasekarapattinam's geographical location allows rockets to be oriented southwards from the outset, eliminating the need for such adjustments.
The establishment of the Kulasekarapattinam launch pad is currently in the land acquisition phase, with a two-year projected completion timeline.
This development will further bolster ISRO's capacity and expand opportunities for satellite launches, particularly for smaller satellite launch vehicles and private entities in the space industry.
Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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