What is Gaganyaan Mission Really?

Credit: Federal News

Introduction

Humans have always looked at the heavens and wondered about the nature of the objects seen in the night sky. With the development of rockets and the advances in electronics and other technologies in the 20th century, it became possible to send machines and animals and then people above Earth’s atmosphere into outer space. Space exploration, investigation, by means of crewed and uncrewed spacecraft, of the reaches of the universe beyond Earth’s atmosphere and the use of the information so gained to increase knowledge of the cosmos and benefit humanity.

What is this Mission?

The word ‘Gaganyaan’ is derived from Sanskrit, meaning ‘sky-vehicle’. The Gaganyaan Programme envisages undertaking the demonstration of indigenous capability to undertake human spaceflight to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). As part of this program, two unmanned missions and one manned mission will be carried out. ISRO is planning to launch the first uncrewed mission under Gaganyaan in 2022, following which is the second unmanned mission. “Vyommitra” will carry a robot and this will then be followed by the manned mission. The uncrewed missions are for technology demonstration, and safety and reliability verification and will aim to study the performance of systems before the crewed flight. The robot will mimic the space crew activities set for the human flight mission to assess all the possible challenges before the final mission.

New Technologies required for this Mission

The major new technologies required for Gaganyaan programme are as follows:

  1. Human rated launch vehicle
  2. Crew escape systems
  3. Habitable orbital module
  4. Life support system
  5. Crew selection and training and associated crew management activities.

Execution of this Program

The Gaganyaan Programme is going to be a major National effort. The overall programme co-ordination, systems engineering and implementation will be carried out by ISRO. Further, the human rated launch vehicle, crew escape system, Orbital module and essential infrastructure will be realized by ISRO utilizing the in-house expertise and with participation of Industry, Academia and National agencies. The private players in the country have developed significant expertise in niche areas, and this will be effectively utilized in the programme.

Agencies Collaborating with ISRO for this Mission

Major collaborating partners for Gaganyaan include

  1. Indian Armed Forces
  2. Defence Research Development Organization
  3. Indian maritime agencies – Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, Shipping Corporation of India, National Institute of Oceanography, National Institute of Ocean Technology
  4. Indian Meteorological Department
  5. CSIR Labs
  6. Academic Institutes
  7. Industry Partners.

Benefits of this Mission

The Human spaceflight programme has both tangible and intangible benefits for the nation, which includes:

  1. Progress towards a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond.
  2. Advanced technology capability for undertaking human space exploration, sample return missions, and scientific exploration.
  3. Future capability to actively collaborate in global space station development & to carry out scientific experiments of interest to the nation.
  4. Create a broad framework for wider Academia-Industry partnership in taking up development activities for national development.

Conclusion

The Gaganyaan mission could propel India to the center of human space exploration. The manned missions will push
India is further in exploration beyond Earth’s orbit as countries are eager to control the next space race, which has the
potential to trigger major changes in the global order.

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