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Gaganyaan: First abort test likely only in early 2023

BENGALURU: The first abort test using the special test vehicle (TV) as part of Gaganyaan, which was earlier being targeted for the last quarter of this calendar year, is now expected only in early 2023.

Isro chairman S Somanath told TOI: “There has been a lot of progress and at this juncture we are looking at completing the first test in early 2023. The test vehicle is already at SHAR (spaceport in Sriharikota) and work on the crew module (CM) and crew escape system (CES) is progressing.”

As reported by TOI earlier, the test — TV technology demonstrator-1 (TV-TD1) mission — will demonstrate the descent phase, parachute deployment and recovery, among other things.

While there will be more than one TV-TDs, in the first one, the CM will separate from the TV at a height of around 11km (from sea level), attain an altitude of around 15km before falling back to back in the Bay of Bengal.

The ground team at Sriharikota will do the tracking. Once separated or ejected from the vehicle, the module will have a free fall. Essentially, Isro will demonstrate the crew escape system in an in-flight abort scenario — that is, navigation and guidance, control systems and parachutes will be demonstrated.

“We’re getting ready for the first test vehicle launch which should happen mostly in the second or third week of January as things stand now. CES is almost ready with most motors having been tested. The CM will take some time as there are many systems involved,” a senior scientist said.

The full-scale CM will have a simulated mass of the actual module Isro plans to send astronauts in. While this will not carry the environment control and life support system (ECLSS), the weight will be simulated.

Further, another scientist explained that the training of the four astronaut-elects is continuing in Bengaluru even as the space agency makes headway in procurement of various simulators needed for the next level of training.

“We need to make two or three virtual reality (VR) simulators of which we already have one. But we also need a mock-up simulator that gives the trainees the feel of the actual CM with all the interiors mimicking the real module. For this simulator, we are in the final stages of placing an order. It will most likely be an Indian company. Other than this, we will also need a dynamic training simulator (DTS),” the scientist said.

As reported by TOI earlier, ISRO has recently floated a tender for a dynamic simulator and is awaiting responses from firms. As per the expression of interest (EoI) to acquire the DTS, vendors who qualify will develop the simulator for ISRO, which will among other things develop and supply the simulation software, configuration of the crew module interior, mission sequence, and carry out review of design and realisation of systems.

Any new IP created during the development of the simulator will be shared by the vendor and ISRO. On why DTS, ISRO elaborates that the DTS will be essential for mission-specific training (MST) which will be supported by various crew training simulators (CTS) identified based on different capabilities for crew training, including the DTS.

Edited by Ragul senthil

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