On February 4, 2024, the Union Minister of Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh, said that India’s female robot astronaut Vyommitra will fly into space ahead of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) ambitious Gaganyaan Mission, the country’s manned flight carrying Indian astronauts into space.
Jitendra Singh said the Uncrewed Vyommitra mission is scheduled to take place ahead of the manned mission Gaganyaan. The name of the female robot, Vyommitra is derived from joining two Sanskrit words Vyom (meaning space) and Mitra (friend). She is called a half-humanoid robot because she does not have legs. The design, development, integration of the robot was carried out by the ISRO (ISRO Inertial Systems Unit), while the fingers were constructed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), the sister facility of ISRO.
The AI developed robot is made to fly aboard a rocket an survive stress and vibrations while in flight. With the ability to see, speak and make facial expressions, it has been made to resemble a human. She will monitor via module parameters, alert astronauts, carry out life support procedures, carry out tasks like operating switch panels and imitate other human actions in space throughout the uncrewed flight.
In his address on the occasion of Independence Day in the year 2019, the Gaganyaan mission was first announced by PM Narendra Modi. The Gaganyaan Mission will be sending a crew of three into a 400 km orbit for a three-day mission and returning them back to Earth. On their way back the team will land in the waters of the Indian Ocean.
Four people have been shortlisted for this purpose, all of them are esteemed pilots and officers of the Indian Air Force (IAF). They are being trained in India and Russia. In parallel, the medical professional from the IAF will also travel to France where they will receive training in keeping track of wellbeing of astronauts who will launch into space.
In October 2023, ISRO announced that they have successfully launched the Gaganyaan Mission Test Vehicle Development Flight Mission-1 test vehicles (TV-D1) Flight test in the run up to the launch of India’s first ever manned space flight. This was meant to qualify the crew escaped system and parachute system said India’s Department of Space, in a statement adding that the human rating of the launch vehicle is complete, all propulsion stages are qualified and all preparations are in place.
The TVD-1 is a liquid propelled single stage test vehicle. The Crew Escape System, which the test vehicle carried with it is India’s homegrown systems which will be crucial for the safety of the astronauts. The Crew Escape System basically safeguards the astronauts in a catastrophic error occurs during their spaceflight, endangering the spacecraft they are travelling in.