Bengaluru: In preparation for the ambitious Gaganyaan human space mission slated for 2024, ISRO is set to launch an unmanned test flight on October 21, 2023.
This mission, known as the “Gaganyaan Test Vehicle Space Flight” or “Gaganyaan TV-D1,” holds immense importance as it will not only evaluate the spacecraft’s performance but also test the crucial crew escape system. The testing will be conducted at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
— ISRO (@isro) October 16, 2023
This mission aims to demonstrate ISRO’s human spaceflight capabilities by launching a crew to an orbit of 400 km and safely bringing them back to Earth in Indian sea waters. TV-D1 is specifically designed to test the crew module (CM), which will carry Indian astronauts during the human spaceflight next year.
The TV-D1 test flight will involve launching an unmanned crew module into outer space, recovering it upon touchdown in the Bay of Bengal, and evaluating its performance. ISRO has further plans for three additional test missions, known as D2, D3, and D4, as part of the Gaganyaan program.
The test vehicle for this mission is a single-stage liquid rocket developed for abort scenarios, carrying the Crew Module (CM) and Crew Escape System (CES). During the test, the Crew Escape System with the Crew Module will separate at an altitude of approximately 17 km, followed by the execution of an autonomous abort sequence, including the deployment of parachutes, leading to a safe CM touchdown in the sea, about 10 km from the Sriharikota coast.
The crew module is a critical component where astronauts will be housed in a pressurized, Earth-like atmosphere during the Gaganyaan mission. The CM for TV-D1 is an unpressurized version that has undergone integration and testing. It features a set of parachutes, recovery systems, and avionics for navigation, sequencing, telemetry, instrumentation, and power. The CM is extensively instrumented to capture flight data for system performance evaluation.
Post-landing, the crew module will be recovered from the Bay of Bengal using a dedicated vessel and a diving team from the Indian Navy. This marks a significant step forward in India’s pursuit of human spaceflight capabilities.