- Significance of Human Space Mission
- Key Components of Human Space Mission
- Steps taken so far
- Key challenges
- When USSR and USA were racing for technological superiority by launching manned space missions, Vikram Sarabhai, the chief architect of India’s space program urged India to resist such temptation and focus on societal applications of space.
- However, the situation has changed in 21st century and ISRO along with government of India have been more enthusiastic about the manned Space program. ISRO started toying with the idea since 2006.
- The objective of the HSP is to undertake human spaceflight mission to carry a crew of three to Low Earth Orbit and to return them safely to a predetermined destination on earth. As part of the program, two unmanned flights and one manned flight will be undertaken.
- The GSLV MK-III launch vehicle will be used to launch the Gaganyaan mission.
Significance/ Need of HSP
- More R&D in space – ISRO will be conducting experiments in space through these programs.
- Encouragement to our scientific community: it will give self belied to our engineers, scientists etc.
- Resources outside earth: Manned space programs are important to get control over resources. For e.g., the moon has enough helium to power the entire globe.
- In fact, Dr K Sivan (former chair of ISRO) says that if colonies must be set up outside earth for the human civilization, how can India, one of the oldest civilizations, be left behind and waiting.
- Advances in Science and Technology: According to K Sivan, the mission is not only about sending a man to space. It will provide us opportunities to explore new technologies. New technologies will emerge out of it and will lead to enhanced science and technological capabilities.
- Technological spin-offs will benefit other sectors.
- For e.g., lithium-ion batteries which ISRO had developed for rockets is now finding use in commercial vehicles.
- Fire resistant chemicals that ISRO will be developing for human flights will be useful in petroleum industry, safeguarding workers from the fire.
- Improvements in Higher Education: The standards of higher education in the field of aeronautical engineering, aerospace engineering and physics would be impacted positively, and would get a major boost.
- Employment Opportunities
- ISRO Chairperson K Sivan estimated that HSP would lead to creation of around 15,000 new jobs in various sectors. The space mission will involve multiple state-run scientific institutions, academia, industry and start-ups.
- Symbolism: Great power status – Achievements in outer space are a marker of great power status.
Key components of Human Space Program (HSP)
- Building a habitable module in which astronauts will live and work. Such environmental control systems are being developed.
- Life support systems – space suits
- Astronaut Training – to live in a gravity less environment.
- Capabilities for recovering astronauts safely
- Crew Escape System – for emergency escape during launch
Steps taken so far:
- In 2012, Ministry of Science and Technology allocated Rs 145 core in funding for the programme. In 2018, the Union Cabinet has allocated Rs 10,000 crore for the program.
- GSLV-MK-III has been developed and tested. It has the capability to take pay load of upto 10,000 kg to low earth orbit.
- Demonstration of re-entry flight of crew module i.e., Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) mission
- Pad abort and test for crew escape systems
- Testing of human rated launch vehicles propulsive stages i.e., solid boosters, liquid and cryo engines.
- A new vehiclee., Test Vehicle (TV) has been developed to test critical crew associated systems.
- ISRO conducted a major development test, ‘Integrated Main Parachute Airdrop Test (MAT)’ of the crew module deceleration system to simulate different failure conditions of the parachute system before it is deemed qualified to be used in the first human space flight.
- Indian scientists have also developed light weight silicon tiles that can resist getting burnt and will be used to coat the outside of the space vehicle (when a spacecraft comes back into earth’s atmosphere it faces roasting temperature above 1,000-degree celsius)
- Prototype Space suits have also been developed.
- In fact, ISRO chair K Sivan said that most of the technology required for the launch have already been developed.
- GSLV MK-III needs to be human rated for this mission (Tests going on)
- Successful Prototype tests for RLV, CES etc. needs to be transformed into final modules.
- Developing necessary life support system is another area where ISRO still needs to work. Agency has been working on Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS), but it needs improvement and more testing.
- Astronaut Training will be another big challenge as they may experience high levels of stress because of restricted movement in a small vessel while whizzing around the earth on high speeds. ISRO lacks well-developed astronaut training centres for now and to meet the 2022 deadline ISRO is cooperating with Russia.
Conclusion : As with any ambitious project, Gaganyaan will face its share of challenges. But, with strong political will, right kind of investment and proper support to India’s scientific community, experts at ISRO feel that they will be able to achieve the steep target within the time frame.
- India has achieved remarkable success in unmanned space missions including the Chandrayaan and Mars Orbiter Mission, but has not ventured into manned space mission, both in terms of technology and logistics? Explain critically [10 marks, 150 words] [Mains 2017] [the question is not relevant any more as India has already ventured into this now]
- “Gaganyaan will not only be about sending humans to space. It will provide us opportunities to develop many new technologies” Discuss [10 marks, 150 words]