ISRO and its Human Spaceflight Mission
The ISRO embarked on a significant phase of its ‘Gaganyaan’ human spaceflight mission.
This phase, marked as TV-D1, was not only the maiden uncrewed developmental flight but also a demonstration of India’s resolute commitment to advancing its capabilities in space exploration.
- In this mission, a solitary-stage rocket was employed, tasked with transporting a crew module equipped with a crew-escape system (CES) to an altitude of 12 kilometers.
- At this juncture, the CES disengaged from the rocket, ascending to an elevation of 17 kilometers. Following a calculated command, the CES parted ways with the crew module, enabling the module to recalibrate itself before descending over the Bay of Bengal.
- The module’s descent was meticulously controlled, initially employing drogue parachutes and subsequently relying on main parachutes. The culmination of this meticulously choreographed mission occurred when the module gently splashed into the Bay, not far from Sriharikota, and was promptly recovered by the Indian Navy.
- Concurrently, the CES completed its mission by executing a controlled splashdown at a different location. This complex flight served as a comprehensive test of the CES’s capability to safeguard the crew in the event of a rocket malfunction, while also amassing invaluable data through onboard sensors, which will be instrumental for future endeavors.
GS-03 (Space technology)
Evaluate the significance of ISRO’s recent uncrewed developmental flight, TV-D1, within the broader context of India’s human spaceflight aspirations and its potential impact on the nation’s space exploration goals. (250 words)
Dimensions of the Article:
- Pioneering Safety Measures
- Data-Driven Exploration
- Balancing Act with Costs
Pioneering Safety Measures:
- ISRO with its uncrewed developmental flight prioritized the security of future astronauts.
- The successful detachment and controlled descent of the crew module, enabled by the CES, underscored the organization’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the welfare of crew members.
- TV-D1 unlike being a test flight, it was more of “treasure trove of data”.
- The information gathered during this mission serves as a cornerstone for ISRO’s forthcoming endeavors in human spaceflight.
- The organization’s approach of making informed decisions based on empirical data was evident through the rigorous testing and evaluations, such as the extensive 16-stage testing of parachutes.
Balancing Act with Costs:
- The ‘Gaganyaan’ program, with its roots dating back to 2009, was originally estimated at ₹12,400 crore. However, it wasn’t until December 2018 that the Union Cabinet granted its approval with a reduced budget of ₹9,023 crore, predicated on the assumption of the first crewed flight taking place by 2022.
- However, due to a multitude of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic and other commitments, the earliest projection for the first crewed flight has been postponed to 2025.
- Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi set an ambitious target, calling upon ISRO to send humans to the moon by 2040. This is undoubtedly a challenging deadline, even with the necessary financial support.
- The ‘Gaganyaan’ mission, in this context, serves as a blueprint for achieving a harmonious balance – a meticulous planning approach, the strengthening of local manufacturing capacities, comprehensive testing, and a launch only when fully prepared.
- While the stringent timeline for lunar exploration may be missed, the mission can proceed with a sense of assurance, simultaneously fostering local capabilities.
- ISRO is poised to continue its journey by adopting a multifaceted approach characterized by careful planning, the nurturing of local manufacturing capabilities, exhaustive testing, and a commitment to launch when fully prepared, will serve as the foundation for future space endeavors.
- The organization’s capacity to meet the Prime Minister’s ambitious 2040 lunar exploration target, while formidable, will undoubtedly be enhanced by the resilience and adaptability demonstrated in the ‘Gaganyaan’ mission.
ISRO’s successful execution of the uncrewed developmental flight, TV-D1, reflects India’s steadfast commitment to venturing into the challenging domain of human spaceflight. This mission, underscores ISRO’s dedication to both crew safety and mission success.