Less than a week after Chandryaan-3 landing on the moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing up for other ambitious missions, including Aditya-L-1 Solar Mission and Shukrayaan-1 respectively. It has also sent a successful mission to Mars as well. One such mission is the Gaganyaan Mission.
On August 26, 2023, the Union Minister of Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh, gave an important update on India’s first mission that will send humans to space and stated that the mission trials will begin in the month of October 2023.
The second stage of the project will see the launch of Vyommitra, a space-travelling humanoid robot dressed in female attire. “After these two phases, astronauts numbering one to three will be sent as part of the manned mission of the Gaganyaan project. I think that this might start in 2024,” Singh told a news agency.
“Bringing back the astronauts is as important as sending them. If everything goes perfectly, then we can have a go-ahead.”
What is the Gaganyaan Mission?
During his Independence Day address, the ambitious Gaganyaan project idea was put forward by PM Narendra Modi in 2019. It is a mission that plans to send Indians to space.
Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma has travelled to space. He did this, though by sending a cosmonaut on a Russian Spacecraft. The Gaganyaan Project, on the other hand, will be sending a crew of three into a 400km orbit for a three-day mission and returning them safely back to Earth. On the way back, the team will land on Indian Ocean waters.
The Mission entails the development of numerous critical technologies, such as human-rated launch vehicles for safely transporting humans to space, a system that simulates life support systems of the Earth’s environment and an emergency escape supply, among others. Prior to the manned trip, an unmanned trip will demonstrate the safety and dependability of all systems, according to ISRO.
For the Gaganyaan Mission, four people have already been shortlisted and selected. All of them are from the Indian Air Force. They are being trained in India and Russia. According to a media report, in parallel, a team of medical professionals from the Indian Air Force will travel to France to receive training in keeping track of the well-being of astronauts who will be launched into space.
The Gaganyaan achievements will make India the fourth country to send people into space. According to the Union Minister of Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh, this was much delayed by COVID-19.
Furthermore, according to another media agency, another progress for the Gaganyaan programme is the development and delivery of business of the second crew module sub-assembly designated for uncrewed missions. The construction of the orbital module preparation facility is also finished.
The facility has been authorized for the test vehicle mission integration activities, and the Gaganyaan launchpad augmentation works are in progress. To secure the safe return of astronauts on such missions, a lot of planning is necessary in advance, Singh Pointed out.
What is Vyommitra?
Vyommitra, a female robot, was unveiled at the inaugural session of the “Human Spaceflight and Exploration- Present Challenges and Future Trends event in January 2020. The term is derived from two Sanskrit words, Vyom (Space) and Mitra (friend), and has been designed for the Gaganyaan module. Since she lacks legs, she is called and referred to as a half-humanoid robot. She can bend forward and to the sides, though.
The design, development and integration of the robot were carried out by the ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU), while its fingers were made by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center, a sister organisation facility located in Thumba. The AI-based robot is made to fly aboard a rocket and survive stress and vibrations while in flight. With the ability to speak and see and make facial expressions, it has been made to resemble a human.
Special Teams from the IISU, which is designated to create navigational systems for ISRO launch vehicles, have been working on the humanoid for a number of months. She will soon receive a digital twin Using computer simulations, the twin will test the control systems in microgravity. Collaboration with IITs would be used to build the twin.
Vyommitra will travel with astronauts on manned missions in addition to the unmanned Gaganyaan Mission. The purpose of Vyommitra is to perform certain tasks in order to analyze how astronauts might behave. She will mimic every action that astronauts are required to take and respond to them in two languages.
She will monitor via module parameters, alert you, carry out life support procedures, carry out tasks like operating switch panels, and imitate other human actions in space throughout the uncrewed flight.