The Gaganyaan Programme envisages undertaking the demonstration of human spaceflight to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in the short term and will lay the foundation for a sustained Indian human space exploration programme in the long run.
The objective of the Gaganyaan programme is to demonstrate an indigenous capability to undertake human space flight missions to LEO.
The Gaganyaan mission could propel India to the centre of human space exploration, which is dominated by the US and Russia. The manned mission is the biggest Isro venture in the new decade.
While the first unmanned flight is likely to be launched this year, the second demonstration launch could happen in 2022-23 before the astronauts finally take to the skies in a full-scale, crewed mission.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic impacting the pace of the mission, the Defence Research and Development (DRDO) organisation and the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) are now conducting impact studies on the crew module.
What is Gaganyaan Mission?
Gaganyaan is a mission by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
Under the Gaganyaan schedule, three flights will be sent into orbit. There will be two unmanned flights and one human spaceflight.
The Gaganyaan system module, called the Orbital Module will have three Indian astronauts, including a woman.
It will circle Earth at a low-earth-orbit at an altitude of 300-400 km from the earth for 5-7 days.
The payload will consist of, Crew module – spacecraft carrying human beings. Service module – powered by two liquid-propellant engines.
GSLV Mk III, also called the LVM-3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3,) the three-stage heavy-lift launch vehicle, will be used to launch Gaganyaan as it has the necessary payload capability.
In June 2019, the Human Space Flight Centre of the ISRO and the Russian government-owned Glavkosmos signed a contract for the training, which includes Russian support in the selection of candidates, their medical examination, and space training.
The candidates will study in detail the systems of the Soyuz manned spaceship, as well as be trained in short-term weightlessness mode aboard the Il-76MDK aircraft.
The Soyuz is a Russian spacecraft. The Soyuz carries people and supplies to and from the space station.
The Il-76MDK is a military transport plane specially designed for parabolic flights of trainee astronauts and space tourists.
Why do we need Gaganyaan mission?
It will help in the enhancement of science and technology levels in the country and help inspire youth.
Gaganyaan will involve numerous agencies, laboratories, disciplines, industries and departments.
It will help in the improvement of industrial growth.
Recently, the Government has announced a new organisation, IN-SPACe, part of reforms to increase private participation in the space sector.
It will help in the development of technology for social benefits.
It will help in improving international collaboration.
One International Space Station (ISS) put up by multiple countries may not be enough. Regional ecosystems will be needed and Gaganyaan will focus on regional needs: food, water and energy security.
India’s Other Upcoming Projects
Chandrayaan-3 Mission: India has planned a new moon mission named Chandrayaan-3. It is likely to be launched in early 2021.
Shukrayaan Mission: The ISRO is also planning a mission to Venus, tentatively called Shukrayaan.
After land, sea and air, the next frontier of global dominance in space as countries rushes to explore the vastness of the cosmos, discover new resources on the Moon, and look for signs of microbial life beyond our orbit. With the US and Russia dominating space exploration, China is slowly cruising ahead with plans to build its own space station, return samples from asteroids, and trundle on the surface of the Red Planet. An indigenous crew mission will put India at the centre of this race, shaping the already changing geopolitics.