Gaganyaan: Human Spaceflight Mission


    In News

    • Recently, The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), along with the Indian Navy, has conducted a trial for the Gaganyaan.

    More about the mission

    • About:
      • ISRO & Indian Navy has carried out initial recovery trials of the Crew Module in the Navy’s Water Survival Test Facility (WSTF) in Kochi.
      • The trials were part of the preparation for crew module recovery operations for the Gaganyaan mission that will be carried out in Indian waters with the participation of Indian Government agencies. 
      • The overall recovery operations are being led by the Indian Navy.
    • Significance of the trial:
      • Need of recovery:
        • According to ISRO, as the safe recovery of the crew is the final step to be accomplished for any successful human spaceflight, it is of paramount importance and it has to be carried out with the minimum lapse of time.
      • Feedback operation:
        • These trials assist in validating the SoP, and training recovery teams as well as the flight crew. 
        • They provide valuable inputs for the utilization of recovery accessories. 
        • The feedback from the recovery team/trainers helps improve the recovery operations SoP, design various recovery accessories, and finalize the training plan

    Navy’s Water Survival Test Facility (WSTF)

    • WSTF, Kochi, is a state-of-the-art facility of the Indian Navy that provides realistic training of aircrew for escape from a ditched aircraft under varied simulated conditions and crash scenarios. 
    • WSTF simulates different sea state conditions, environmental conditions, and day/night conditions.

    Gaganyaan Mission

    • About:
      • The Gaganyaan project envisages demonstration of human spaceflight capability by launching a crew of three members to an orbit of 400 km for a three day mission and bringing them back safely to earth, by landing in Indian sea waters.
      • The first trial (uncrewed flight) for Gaganyaan is being planned by the end of 2023 or early 2024. This will be followed by sending Vyom Mitra, a humanoid and then with the crew onboard.
    • ISRO’s first human spaceflight mission:
      • This manned mission will be the first of ISRO’s human spaceflight missions.
        • The US, Russia and China are the only three countries to have conducted human spaceflights yet.
    • Launched by: 
    • ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk III (3 stages heavy-lift vehicle).

    Significance of the Gaganyaan mission

    • India’s aim of Self-reliance:
      • It will help India in achieving self-reliance, in line with the vision of Atma Nirbhar Bharat and also boost the capacity development in launching satellites under the Make in India Initiative.
      • It will reduce India’s dependence on foreign cooperation in this direction.
    • R&D and robotic programme:
      • It will also enhance the research and development (R&D) at science and technology levels especially in the space sector.
      • It is in line with India’s progress towards a sustained and affordable human and robotic programme to explore the solar system and beyond.
    • Focus on regional needs:
      • Gaganyaan will focus on regional needs because one International Space Station (ISS) may not be enough to cater to global requirements.
    • Strengthening international partnerships:
      • The programme will strengthen international partnerships and global security through the sharing of challenging and peaceful goals.  


    • Environmental Hazards: 
      • Hostile space environment with a lack of gravity and atmosphere and danger of radiation.
    • Astronauts may have medical issues due to:
      • Microgravity: 
        • Transition from one gravity field to another affects hand-eye and head-eye coordination leading to orientation-loss, vision, muscle strength, aerobic capacity, etc.
      • Isolation: 
        • Behavioural issues are likely to crop up when astronauts are confined into small spaces and have to rely on limited resources. 
        • They may encounter depression, cabin fever, fatigue, sleep disorder and other psychiatric disorders.
    • Artificial Atmosphere: 
      • There are two choices for an artificial atmosphere, either an Earth-like mixture of oxygen in inert gas or pure oxygen. 
      • A pure or concentrated oxygen atmosphere is toxic and has fire risk, especially in ground operations.
    • Aerospace Technology Challenges:
      • Space flight requires much higher velocities than air transportation. Travelling in a rocket is like sitting on an exploding bomb with a speed increasing from 0 to over 25,000 km per hour in a few minutes. 
      • Anything may go wrong during the launch and pre and post phases, including the explosion of the rocket.

    Suggestions & way ahead

    • A well-developed Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) is needed to supply the essentials, maintain the acceptable environment and deal with the management of waste products.
    • Ground testing will have to be followed by tests in the space orbit while simulating zero gravity and deep vacuum.
    • Launch escape system safety features have to be built to minimize the loss and warning of anything abnormal
    • The crew and mission control team require extensive training to prepare. They also need to familiarize themselves with man-machine interfaces within the crew module and various safety drills.

    Source: TH