On Friday, the cabinet cleared India’s first manned space flight programme, also known as Gaganyaan. As part of the Gaganyaan programme, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to send a three-member crew to space for seven days by 2022.
In this year’s Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had vowed to send an Indian in space by 2022. India has already inked agreements with Russia and France for assistance in the ambitious project.
ISRO hopes to deploy its biggest rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III), to send three Indians into space from the Sriharikota space port in Andhra Pradesh.
The space agency hopes to launch the first mission within 40 months. The plans in the “demonstration phase” includes undertaking two unmanned flights and one human flight using Indian technology to catapult a crew of three into a low earth orbit for 5-7 days.
Gaganyaan will be India’s first manned space mission launched by ISRO. If India is successful in launching the Gaganyaan mission, it will join the United States, Russia, and China in launching indigenous missions to space.
Cheapest manned spaceflight
The spaceflight in the Gaganyaan program would be one of the cheapest in the world with the entire mission, including technology development, flight hardware realisation and infrastructure, estimated to cost no more than Rs 10,000 crore (~ $1.43 billion).
“Gaganyaan is a great programme in pursuit of India’s space autonomy. It is designed to carry about three human beings for a maximum period of seven days in space with the support of academia, the scientific community, industry and Isro (Indian Space Research Organisation). It will be launched within 40 months after the approval,” Union Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in New Delhi while briefing the media on the cabinet’s decisions, Mint reported.
The Gaganyaan mission
ISRO is making significant efforts to make the 2022 deadline for India’s first manned mission. The agency is confident that it can achieve the ambitious target set by Prime Minister Modi.
In September, at the Bengaluru Space Expo, the space agency gave a preview of the manned mission. The Gaganyaan system module will reportedly have a service module along with a crew module. It will also be equipped with major technological advancements from ISRO, including a new thermal protection system, and crew escape system. ISRO also showcased a new spacesuit that it had developed at its Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre over the last two years.
In addition to the spacesuit, ISRO demonstrated the crew module capsule, which will carry the three astronauts to space for five to seven days.
In August this year, ISRO stated that it would soon begin the selection process for the three astronauts who would be part of India’s first manned space flight.
“We need to select our astronauts at the earliest as they would require at least three years for training. They could be from the air force or ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), or even a common man. Since it’s our first mission, we would prefer a pilot. The initial training will be done at the Institute for Aerospace Medicine in Bengaluru,” ISRO chairman K. Sivan said at a press conference, as per a Mint report.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.