India Delays Gaganyaan Crew Flight as Mission Specific Training Begins

Indian Coast Guard recovering ISRO’s Crew module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) at 114 nautical miles South West of Indira point. [Credit: Indian Coast Guard (GODL-India)]

India is delaying its planned launch of its Gaganyaan crew vehicle due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. India Today reports:

India’s maiden space mission, Gaganyaan, will be launched in 2023, Science & Technology Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said on Thursday. In reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, the minister said that India’s maiden human space mission will soar to the skies in 2023, making the country the fourth nation in the world to launch a human spaceflight mission after the US, Russia and China.

Meanwhile, the test vehicle flight for the validation of Crew Escape System performance and the first uncrewed mission of Gaganyaan are scheduled at the beginning of the second half of 2022.

“This will be followed by the second uncrewed mission at the end of 2022 carrying “Vyommitra” a spacefaring human-robot developed by ISRO and finally the first crewed Gaganyaan mission in 2023,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced the start of Gaganyaan mission specific crew training. The space agency detailed the following steps in a press release.

  • An Inter-Agency Task Team with members from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Indian Air Force (IAF) and ISRO had generated the requirements for Crew Training Curriculum. The curriculum was approved by an Apex Committee comprising of senior officials from ISRO and IAF, including Wg Cdr (Retd.) Rakesh Sharma and Air Cmde (Retd.) Ravish Malhotra.
  • The three-semester training curriculum will have courses on Human Rated Launch Vehicle, Orbital Module systems, Space Medicine, Launch Complex Procedures, Microgravity Familiarization, Human Rating & Certification, Recovery Operations, Survival Training and related subjects.
  • Crew Safety in Gaganyaan mission is one of the important objectives of the training program. Towards this, the crew will be thoroughly trained about the operating environment, risks, warning systems, procedures for nominal and off-nominal situations and emergency escape systems.
  • Modern training methods such as Virtual reality simulators, Static Mock-up simulators and health monitoring equipment will be employed during the training. Experienced faculty from Indian Institute of Science, Institute of Aviation Medicine, DRDO and ISRO will be delivering the lectures.

ISRO has yet to identify the four pilots training for the Gaganyaan program. The pilots previously underwent training in Russia.