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Actual crew module used during the Pad Abort Test (PAT) of Crew Escape System (CES).jpg
CARE test vehicle used for suborbital re-entry test.
ManufacturerHAL and ISRO
Country of originIndia
ApplicationsCrewed orbital vehicle
Spacecraft typeCrewed
Design life7 days
Launch mass7,800 kg (17,200 lb) (includes service module)[1]
Dry mass3,735 kg (8,234 lb)[1]
Crew capacity3 [2]
DimensionsDiameter: 3.5 m (11 ft)[3]
Height: 3.58 m (11.7 ft) [3]
Volume8 m3 (280 cu ft)[4]
PowerPhotovoltaic array
RegimeLow Earth orbit
StatusIn development
Maiden launchDecember 2020 (uncrewed)
December 2021 (crewed)[5][6]

Gaganyaan (Sanskrit: गगनयान, "Sky Vehicle") 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 (8,200 lb) capsule will orbit the Earth at 400 km (250 mi) altitude for up to seven days with a two or three-person crew on board. The crewed vehicle is planned to be launched on ISRO's GSLV Mk III in December 2021.[7][8] This HAL-manufactured crew module had its first un-crewed experimental flight on 18 December 2014.[9] As of May 2019, design of the crew module has been completed.[10]


Preliminary studies and technological development of Gaganyaan started in 2006 under the generic name "Orbital Vehicle". The plan was to design a simple capsule with an endurance of about a week in space, a capacity of two astronauts, and a splashdown landing 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,[11] but it fell short of full political support and it obtained limited developmental funding.[11] Initially, the first uncrewed flight of the orbital vehicle was proposed to be in 2013,[12][13] then it was revised to 2016.[14] However, in April 2012 it was reported that funding problems placed the future of the project in serious doubt;[15] and in August 2013 it was announced that all crewed spaceflight efforts by India had been designated as being 'off ISRO's priority list'.[16] By early 2014 the project was reconsidered and was one of the main beneficiaries of a substantial budget increase announced in February 2014.[17] 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.[18][19]

The latest push for the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme took place in 2017,[20] and it was accepted and formally announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 August 2018.[21] The current design calls for a crew of three.[2]

Funding and infrastructure[edit]

A crewed spacecraft would require about 124 billion (US$1.77 billion) over a period of seven years, including the 50 billion (US$0.7 billion) for the initial work of the crewed spacecraft during the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007–12) out of which govt released 500 million (US$7 million) in 2007-08.[22][23] In December 2018, the government approved further 100 billion (US$1.5 billion) for a 7-days crewed flight of 3 astronauts to take place by 2021.[7]

Madhavan Chandradathan, director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), stated that ISRO would need to set up an astronaut training facility in Bangalore. Newly established Human Space Flight Centre (HSPC) will coordinate the IHSF efforts.[24] Existing launch facilities will be upgraded for launches under Indian Human Spaceflight project[25][26] with extra facilities needed for launch escape systems.[23] Russia is likely to provide astronaut training, and assist with some aspects in the development of the launcher.[27] 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.[28]

India has already successfully developed and tested several building blocks, including re-entry space capsule, pad abort test, safe crew ejection mechanism in case of rocket failure, flight suit developed by DEBEL and the powerful GSLV-MkIII launch vehicle.[29] Having met all required technological keystones, the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme was accepted and formally announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 August 2018. Gaganyaan will be the first crewed spacecraft under this programme.

ISRO's Human Space Flight Centre and Glavcosmos, which is a subsidiary of the Russian state corporation Roscosmos, signed an agreement on July 1, 2019 for cooperation in the selection, support, medical examination and space training of Indian astronauts.[30] An ISRO Technical Liaison Unit (ITLU) will be setup in Moscow to facilitate the development of some key technologies and establishment of special facilities which are essential to support life in space.[31]


Flight schedule[7][32]
Flight type Date Regime Crew
Re-entry Test 18 December 2014 Sub-orbital None
Pad Abort Test 5 July 2018 Atmospheric None
Test Flight 1 December 2020 LEO None
Test Flight 2 July 2021 LEO None
Crewed Flight 1 December 2021 LEO 2-3

Gaganyaan is a fully autonomous 3.7-tonne (8,200 lb) spacecraft designed to carry a 3-member crew to orbit and safely return to the Earth after a mission duration of up to seven days. 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 (6,600 lb).[1]

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.[33] 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.[34]

Following two non-crewed orbital flight demonstrations of the spacecraft, a crewed Gaganyaan is slated to be launched on the GSLV Mk III launcher in late 2021.[7][8]

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 (190–250 mi) above Earth. When ready to land, its service module and solar panels will be disposed off before reentry. The capsule would return for a parachute splashdown in the Bay of Bengal.[35] Crew module is equipped with two parachutes for redundancy, while one parachute is good enough for safe splashdown. The parachutes would reduce the speed of the crew module from over 216 m/s (710 ft/s) to under 11 m/s (36 ft/s) at splashdown.[36]


The Crew capsule descends under parachutes on 5 July 2018 after the abort motor lifted it to an altitude of 8,200 feet (2,500 m)

On 13 February 2014, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited handed over the first Crew Module structural assembly to ISRO.[9][37] 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, for an 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 9:30 am from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota.[38][39] 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 (50 mi). Thrusters were shutoff at that altitude and atmospheric drag further reduced speed of the capsule. The module heat shield was expected to experience temperature in excess of 1,600 °C (2,910 °F). Parachutes were deployed at an altitude of 15 km (9.3 mi) to slow down the module which performed a splashdown in the Bay of Bengal near Andaman and Nicobar islands.[40][41]

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.[42][43]

Pad abort test[edit]

The Indian Space Research Organisation's Pad Abort Test was conducted successfully on 5 July 2018.[44]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Indian Manned Spacecraft. Astronautix. 2014.
  2. ^ a b Gaganyaan: Astronauts on mission likely to be pilots, crew module design to be finalised soon. India Today. 20 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b Kunhikrishnan, P. "India's Human Spaceflight Programme: GAGANYAAN" (PDF). UNOOSA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 February 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Integrated Cabin Pressure Control System" (PDF). ISRO. p. 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 August 2019. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  5. ^ Rs 10,000 crore plan to send 3 Indians to space by 2022. The Times of India. 29 December 2018.
  6. ^ "First Unmanned Mission Under Gaganyaan By December 2020, Says ISRO Chief".
  7. ^ a b c d "Rs 10,000 crore plan to send 3 Indians to space by 2022 - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  8. ^ a b Gaganyaan mission to take Indian astronaut to space by 2022: PM Modi. The Hindu. 15 August 2018.
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ "India's first solar mission in 2020: ISRO chairman". The Times of India. 4 May 2019. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  11. ^ a b Priyadarshi, Siddhanta (23 February 2009). "Planning Commission Okays ISRO Manned Space Flight Program". Indian Express. p. 2.
  12. ^ ISRO gets green signal for manned space mission, Science News - By
  13. ^ "Gaganyan: How to send an Indian into space".
  14. ^ Beary, Habib (27 January 2010). "India announces first manned space mission". Bangalore: BBC News. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  15. ^ Press Trust of India (25 April 2012). "Spaceflight stuck due to budget: CAG". Times of India. New Delhi. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  16. ^ Press Trust of India. "Human space flight mission off ISRO priority list". Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  17. ^
  18. ^ China View: India's first space capsule returns to earth Archived 2008-05-02 at the Wayback Machine January 22, 2007
  19. ^ ISRO Press Release Archived 2008-05-14 at the Wayback Machine January 22, 2007
  20. ^ THE DECISION FOR INDIAN HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT PROGRAMME. POLITICAL PERSPECTIVES, NATIONAL RELEVANCE AND TECHNOLOGICAL CHALLENGES. (PDF) Mukund Kadursrinivas Raoa, Sridhara Murthi K. Rb, and Prasad M. 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Adelaide, Australia, 25–29 September 2017.
  21. ^ Indian will take national flag to space on board Gaganyaan by 2022, says PM Narendra Modi in Independence Day speech. Hindustan Times. 15 August 2018.
  22. ^ Eleventh Five year Plan (2007-12) proposals for Indian space program
  23. ^ a b Mishra, Bibhu Ranjan (8 October 2008). "ISRO plans manned mission to moon in 2014". Business Standard. Sriharikota Range (SHAR). Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  24. ^ Ds, Madhumathi (11 January 2019). "ISRO starts Human Space Flight centre". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  25. ^ "India's human space programme gets a fillip". Retrieved 11 January 2019. Initially, the plan was the construct a new launch pad for the human space flight, but Sivan told the Express that due to paucity of time one of the two existing launch pads is being modified to meet the requirement.
  26. ^ "Question number 1733 in Rajya Sabha" (PDF). Retrieved 11 January 2019. It is proposed to utilise the existing launch pad with augmentation for carrying out the initial flights under the Gaganyaan manned space flight programme.
  27. ^ Russia to Help India In 2022 Space Mission: Russian Envoy. NDTV. December 3, 2018.
  28. ^ T.S. Subramanian (2 May 2009), "Model of space crew module ready", The Hindu, Chennai, retrieved 14 June 2013
  29. ^ India's manned space mission is on, Cabinet okays Rs 10,000 crore plan, Economic Times, 28 Dec 2018.
  30. ^ "Gaganyaan: India chooses Russia to pick & train astronauts | India News - Times of India". The Times of India. 1 July 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  31. ^ Singh, Surendra (31 July 2019). "Isro will set up unit in Moscow to develop technology needed for Gaganyaan mission | India News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  32. ^ ISRO set for April launch of Chandrayaan-2 after missed deadline. Vikram Gopal, Hindustan Times. 11 January 2019.
  33. ^ Ray, Kalyan (4 January 2009). "ISRO gears up for manned space mission". Deccan Herald. Shillong. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  34. ^ Orbital Vehicle Archived 1 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ "ISRO inches closer to manned mission". Times of India. 10 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2014. We will be checking the crew capsule for all parameters.
  36. ^ "Agra lab parachutes to bring back India astronauts". Deccan Herald. 4 January 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  37. ^ Human space flight prog: HAL hands over crew module assembly to ISRO | Business Line
  38. ^ [1]
  39. ^ "India to launch unmanned crew module in December". The Economic Times. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  40. ^ First Experimental Flight of India's Next Generation Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk-III Successful - ISRO Press Release - December 18, 2014
  41. ^
  42. ^ GSLV Mark III takes to the skies in test flight The Hindu 19 December 2014
  43. ^ India launches largest rocket and unmanned capsule BBC News 18 December 2014
  44. ^ "ISRO conducts pad abort test for Indian human space flight program –". Retrieved 5 July 2018.

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