Manned space mission by 2022 – UPSC GS3

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of his 72nd Independence Day speech vowed to put Indian in space by 2022 under manned space mission on board ‘Gaganyaan’.
  • This announcement gives Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) definitive timeline for manned space mission it has been working on for the last 15 years.
Developments till now:
  • The proposed human spaceflight programme (HSP) has been on table since 2004.
  • ISRO is still long way away, despite advancements in some critical technologies in past decade.
  • It is stilling building its capabilities and developing critical technologies required to send astronaut being into space.
  • The mission will be completed at budget of Rs 10,000 crore and some of technology components required for it already have been developed.
  • This includes heavy-lift launch vehicle (GLSV Mark-III), re-entry and recovery technology, crew module, Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) and astronaut training.
  • The required key technologies ISRO still has to develop for such mission are : ability to launch, recover and ensure earth-like conditions for astronauts. I
Note: If successful, India will become fourth nation in the world to send astronaut into space after US, Russia and China. Former Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Rakesh Sharma was first Indian to travel to space. He was part of the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 expedition, launched on April 2, 1984, as part of the Intercosmos programme.
Key Features of Mission
  • The entire cost of Gaganyaan mission will be less than Rs 10,000 crore.
  • It will be totally indigenous, very cost-effective mission by Indian standards which is not viable from international standards.
  • Prior to actual launch of this manned mission by 2022, ISRO will launch  two unmanned Gaganyaan missions (first in 30 months’ time and then 36 months).
  • Launch Phase:
    • GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle will be used to launch Gaganyaan as it has necessary payload capability for this mission.
    • The spacecraft will comprise of crew module and service module that constitute orbital.
    • It weighs approximately 7 tonnes and will be placed in low earth orbit (LEO) of 300-400 km. Crew module’s size will be 3.7 meters and of service module will be 7 meters.
  • Orbital Phase:
    • The mission will send three-member crew to space for period of five to seven days.
    • The launch vehicle will take off from spaceport of Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh and it will reach desired orbit in 16 minutes.
    • The crew will be selected by Indian Air Force (IAF) and ISRO jointly after which they will undergo training for two-three years.
    • It will conduct microgravity experiment during the mission.
  • Re-entry phase:
    • The velocity of whole module will be reduced and will be turned in opposite direction so that it can start to come down.
    • When it will reach distance of 120 km from Earth’s surface, service module will be removed and separated out.
    • The module carrying crew alone will come back to earth, this will take about 36 minutes to reach Earth.
    • ISRO is planning to land crew module in Arabian Sea, closer to Gujarat coast or in Bay of Bengal or even on land from where the crew will be recovered
  • Execution time:
    • The mission may be executed six months before India completes its 75th Independence Day in 2022. It is expected to be completed before 2022.
  • Does India need it now?

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