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The sun to moon: India's space sector is gearing up for an eventful 2023

In his 2018 Independence Day address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the “Gaganyaan Programme”, marking India’s foray into the new age of human space exploration. Now, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set to make an Aero-scientific leap in the space sector this year. Apart from Chandrayaan-3, which is scheduled to launch on the GSLV Mk-III in June 2023, the space organisation is also preparing for the maiden human space flight “Gaganyaan”, and its first mission of uncrewed ‘G1’ is targeted to be launched in the last quarter of 2023.

As the Gaganyaan is the country’s much advanced project, the astronaut designates for human space flight mission are already identified and are currently undergoing their mission specific training at Bengaluru. The flight is targeted to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2024. Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said, “In view of the paramount importance of crew safety, two Test Vehicle missions are planned before the ‘G1’ mission to demonstrate the performance of crew escape system and parachute-based deceleration system for different flight conditions.”

The flight is aimed at assessing the performance of Human rated launch vehicle, Orbital module propulsion system, mission management, communication system and recovery operations. The mission will carry a humanoid as payload.

Then the second uncrewed ‘G2’ mission in the second quarter of 2024 will be sent, before the final human space flight ‘H1’ mission in 2024. In December last year, Singh had said, “India’s maiden human space flight ‘H1’ mission is targeted to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2024.”

The first semester of astronaut training has been completed wherein they have undergone course modules on Theoretical basics, Space medicine, Launch vehicles, spacecraft system and ground support infrastructure. Regular physical fitness sessions, aeromedical training and flying practice are also part of crew training. “Corresponding evaluation and assessment activities have also been completed. The second semester of crew training is currently in progress,” the Minister added.

As part of the Gaganyaan programme, a new Test Vehicle for testing critical systems was also developed. “Integrated Main Parachute Airdrop Test (IMAT)” of crew module deceleration system was successfully carried out at the Babina Field Fire Range (BFFR), Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, on 18 November 2022.

Moreover, talking about Chandrayaan 3, India is prepared to launch the successor of its most successful lunar orbital probe. The ISRO continues to test the rover and is anticipated to be more enduring than the previous two missions, the mission has been postponed. The mission will make use of the orbiter from Chandrayaan-2, which had crash-landed on the moon.

According to ISRO Chairman S. Somnath, “The engineering on spacecraft has changed dramatically, and it has been strengthened to prevent problems like the ones from the previous launch.”

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha in February 2022, Dr Jitendra Singh said, “Based on the learnings from Chandrayaan-2 and suggestions made by the national level experts, the realization of Chandrayaan-3 is in progress. Many related hardware and their special tests are successfully completed and the launch is scheduled for August 2022.” However, the mission was postponed and rescheduled for 2023.

Edited buy Ragul Senthil

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