ISRO To Conduct Gaganyaan Mission's Crew Escape System's Unmanned Flight Test On October 21

The Gaganyaan mission is the first human spaceflight mission of the Indian space programme. It is expected to be launched sometime in 2024.

The Gaganyaan mission's crew escape system's test is scheduled for October 21

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Monday announced that it would conduct an unmanned flight test related to the Gaganyaan mission on October 21.

The Gaganyaan mission is India's first human spaceflight mission. There would be a series of tests for the rocket and the spacecraft before a greenlight for the actual mission is given. The mission is expected to be launched sometime in 2024. 

"Preparations for the Flight Test Vehicle Abort Mission-1 (TV-D1), which demonstrates the performance of the Crew Escape System, are underway...The TV-D1 test flight is scheduled for October 21, 2023, between 7 am and 9 am from SDSC-SHAR, Sriharikota," said ISRO on Twitter. 

The crew escape system (CES) refers to the mechanism through which astronauts in the crew module (CM) in the spacecraft are ejected to a safe distance from the craft in case the mission has to be aborted because of any contingencies. Once astronauts eject via CES, they are retrieved upon landing and are extracted to safety. 

The crew module (CM) refers to the part of the spacecraft in which the astronauts stay in. It is a pressurised structure that mimics Earth-like conditions outside of the Earth's atmosphere. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Gaganyaan programme in 2018 and it was scheduled to be launched in 2022. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, disrupted the timeline and the mission is now expected to be launched next year. 

India has selected four astronauts for the Gaganyaan mission, who were drawn from amongst the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots. They have completed their training at a Russian facility and are currently training in India. So far, Wing Commander (Retired) Rakesh Sharma is the only Indian to have gone to space. In 1984, he went to space as part of an India-Soviet Union joint mission and spent eight days aboard a Soviet space station. When the then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked how India looks from up there, Sharma famously replied, "Saare jahaan se achha (The most beautiful in the world)."

As Outlook reported earlier, there would be at least three dry runs of Gaganyaans before the actual launch. Two of these dry runs would be with payloads and one without any payload.