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India’s Gaganyaan Soars Towards Milestone: First Crew Escape System Test Mission Set for Launch

In a remarkable stride towards India’s audacious Gaganyaan mission, the first test vehicle mission, TV-D1, designed to validate the crew escape system, is set to take flight in a mere month or two. This pivotal mission, hailed as a significant milestone by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), marks the initial step of the Gaganyaan program’s four abort missions.

Following the launch of TV-D1, the Gaganyaan venture will proceed with the second test vehicle mission, TV-D2, followed by the first uncrewed mission of Gaganyaan, LVM3-G1. Subsequently, a second series of test vehicle missions, TV-D3 and D4, will be undertaken, along with the LVM3-G2 mission featuring a robotic payload. The ultimate crewed mission will be contingent upon the success of these preparatory test missions.

Project Director of Gaganyaan, R Hutton, disclosed this exciting development during an international space conference, stating, “Immediately, what we are now targeting is to validate the crew escape system. In a month or two, the mission will take place from Sriharikota.”

The Gaganyaan project aspires to showcase India’s capability in ferrying a crew of two to three astronauts to a circular orbit approximately 400 km above Earth’s surface. This mission, set to last one to three days, will culminate with a safe return to Earth, landing in a designated area within Indian sea waters.

The Gaganyaan mission will be propelled into space by ISRO’s formidable LVM3 rocket, a heavy-lift launcher that has been meticulously adapted to meet stringent human rating requirements, thus earning the name Human Rated LVM3 (HLVM3).

Hutton proudly announced, “I am glad to say that the LVM3 has been human-rated. When we say human-rated, it should have adequate safety margins.” This assurance underscores the paramount importance of safety in this pioneering mission.

The HLVM3 comprises a Crew Escape System (CES), powered by quick-acting, high-burn-rate solid motors, ensuring the rapid and secure evacuation of the Crew Module (CM) and its occupants in case of emergencies, whether at the launch pad or during ascent.

The Orbital Module (OM), which will encircle Earth, incorporates both the Crew Module and the Service Module (SM). The OM boasts state-of-the-art avionics systems with redundancy to ensure crew safety. The Crew Module, the crew’s habitable space, features a double-walled construction to safeguard astronauts. It houses crucial systems such as life support, avionics, and deceleration systems, ensuring their protection during re-entry and touchdown.

The Service Module offers essential support to the Crew Module while in orbit, including thermal, propulsion, power, avionics systems, and deployment mechanisms.

As India gears up for this historic mission, the nation’s aspirations to join the elite group of countries capable of human spaceflight are poised to become a reality. The forthcoming test missions herald an exciting era in India’s space exploration journey, symbolizing the nation’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of human space exploration.

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