|Manufacturer||HAL and ISRO|
|Country of origin||India|
|Applications||Crewed orbital vehicle|
|Design life||7 days|
|Launch mass||7,800 kg (includes service module)|
|Dry mass||3,735 kg|
|Dimensions||Diameter: 3.00 m|
Height: 2.70 m
|Regime||Low Earth orbit|
|First launch||December, 2020 (unmanned), December 2021 (manned) as planned|
Gaganyaan ("Skycraft") is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft intended to be the basis of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme. The spacecraft is being designed to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be equipped with rendezvous and docking capability. In its maiden crewed mission, Indian Space Research Organisation's largely autonomous 3.7-tonne capsule will orbit the Earth at 400 km (250 mi) altitude for up to seven days with a three-person crew on board. The crewed vehicle is planned to be launched on ISRO's GSLV Mk III in 2022. This HAL-manufactured crew module had its first uncrewed experimental flight on 18 December 2014.
Preliminary studies and technological development of Gaganyaan started in 2006 under the generic name "Orbital Vehicle". The plan was to design a simple capsule similar to the Mercury-class spacecraft with an endurance of about a week in space. It was designed to carry two astronauts and to splashdown after re-entry. The design was finalized by March 2008 and was submitted to the Government of India for funding. The funding for the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme was sanctioned in February 2009, but it fell short of full political support and it obtained limited developmental funding. Initially, the first uncrewed flight of the orbital vehicle was proposed to be in 2013, then it was revised to 2016. However, in April 2012 it was reported that funding problems placed the future of the project in serious doubt; and in August 2013 it was announced that all crewed spaceflight efforts by India had been designated as being 'off ISRO's priority list'. By early 2014 the project was reconsidered and was one of the main beneficiaries of a substantial budget increase announced in February 2014. ISRO is developing the Gaganyaan orbital vehicle on the tests performed with their scaled 550 kg Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE), which was launched and recovered in January 2007.
The latest push for the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme took place in 2017, and it was accepted and formally announced by the Prime Minister on 15 August 2018. The latest design calls for a crew of three.
Funding and infrastructure
The government allocated ₹ 500 million (US$10 million) for pre-project initiatives for 2007 through 2008. A crewed spacecraft would require about ₹ 124 billion (US$3 billion) and a period of seven years. The Planning Commission estimated in 2007 that a budget of ₹ 50 billion (US$1 billion) was required for initial work of the crewed spacecraft during the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007–12).
Madhavan Chandradathan, director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), stated that ISRO would need to set up an astronaut training facility in Bangalore, as well as build a third launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre for crewed missions, with extra facilities needed for launch escape systems. Russia is likely to provide astronaut training, and assist with some aspects in the development of the launcher. In spring 2009 the full-scale mock-up of crew capsule of Gaganyaan was built and delivered to Satish Dhawan Space Centre for training of astronauts.
Having met all required technological keystones, the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme was accepted and formally announced by the Prime Minister on 15 August 2018. Gaganyaan will be the first crewed spacecraft under this programme.
Gaganyaan is a fully autonomous 3.7-tonne spacecraft designed to carry a 3-member crew to orbit and safely return to the Earth after a mission duration of few orbits and up to seven days. The capsule is similar to the Soyuz-shaped reentry spacecraft. Its service module is powered by two liquid propellant engines. The crew module is mated to the service module, and together they are called the orbital module. Based on the payload capability of the GSLV-III booster, the service module would have a mass of about 3 tonnes.
The space capsule will have life support and environmental control systems. It will be equipped with emergency mission abort and emergency escape that can be done at the first stage or second stage of the rocket burn. The nose of the original version of the orbital vehicle was free for a docking mechanism, but primary entry was evidently through a side hatch secured by explosive bolts.
About 16 minutes after liftoff from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota, the rocket will inject the spacecraft into an orbit 300–400 km above Earth. The capsule would return for a splashdown in the Bay of Bengal.
While many technological elements to put together a crewed flight are already available, ISRO would need to develop many new technologies to ensure a reliable and safe life-support and escape system for the crew. And in order to perfect the reentry techniques considered crucial for a crewed flight, ISRO is planning to carry out three more flights of Space Recovery Capsules (SRE) and few uncrewed flights of the Gaganyaan spacecraft.
On 13 February 2014, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited handed over the first Crew Module structural assembly to ISRO. ISRO's Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre would equip the Crew Module with systems necessary for life support, navigation, guidance and control systems. ISRO undertook an uncrewed test launch of the vehicle aboard the GSLV Mk3 X1 experimental sub-orbital flight on 18 December 2014. The GSLV Mk3 launcher with a dummy upper cryogenic stage (filled with liquid nitrogen to simulate weight of fuel) was launched at 9:30am from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota. The crew module separated from the rocket at an altitude of 126 km. On board motors controlled and reduced the speed of the module until an altitude of 80 km. Thrusters were shutoff at 80 km and atmospheric drag further reduced speed of the capsule. The module heat shield was expected to experience temperature in excess of 1600 °C. Parachutes were deployed at an altitude of 15 km to slow down the module which performed a soft landing in the Bay of Bengal near Andaman and Nicobar islands.
This flight was used to test orbital injection, separation and re-entry procedures and systems of the Crew Capsule. Also tested were the capsule separation, heat shields and aerobraking systems, deployment of parachute, retro-firing, splashdown, flotation systems and procedures to recover the Crew Capsule from the Bay of Bengal.
Pad Abort Test
The Indian Space Research Organisation's Pad Abort Test was due for March 2017, but it was delayed to 5 July 2018. It was a success.
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We will be checking the crew capsule for all parameters.
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