Europe Moves Toward Independent Human Spaceflight Capability

Credit: ESA

European leaders kicked off the process of developing an independent human spaceflight capability at a space summit chaired by French President Emmaneul Macron on Wednesday.

Officials representing the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union (EU) directed ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher to initiate detailed discussions on how to initiate the program.

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Qualification Testing of Vikas Engine for Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Program

Vikas engine test on Jan. 20, 2022 (Credit: ISRO)

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — Today, January 20, 2022, High Thrust VIKAS Engine for Gaganyaan programme has successfully undergone qualification test for a duration of 25 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

With regard to the Vikas engine qualification for the Gaganyaan Programme, two engines have already undergone tests under nominal operating conditions for a total duration of 480 seconds.

Vikas engine test on Jan. 20, 2022. (Credit: ISRO)

The test carried out today is to verify the robustness of the engine by operating beyond its nominal operating conditions (fuel-oxidiser ratio and chamber pressure). The performance of the engine met the test objectives and the engine parameters were closely matching with the predictions during the entire duration of the test.

Further, three more tests are planned for a cumulative duration of 75 seconds under varying operating conditions. Subsequently, another high thrust Vikas engine will undergo a long-duration test for 240 seconds to complete the Vikas engine qualification for Gaganyaan Programme.

New Chairman Takes Charge as India Space Agency Struggles to Launch Satellites and Begin Human Spaceflight

New ISRO Chairman Shri. S. Somanath (left) takes over from K. Sivan. (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A new chairman has taken over the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at a crucial time as the space agency continues to struggles with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the challenge of becoming only the fourth nation capable of launching astronauts into orbit.

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Qualification Testing of Cryogenic Engine for Gaganyaan Programme

Credit: ISRO

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — Today, January 12, 2022, ISRO successfully conducted the qualification test of Cryogenic Engine for Gaganyaan programme for a duration of 720 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

The performance of the engine met the test objectives and the engine parameters were closely matching with the predictions during the entire duration of the test.

This successful long-duration test is a major milestone for the Human Space Programme – Gaganyaan. It ensures the reliability and robustness of the cryogenic engine for induction into the human-rated launch vehicle for Gaganyaan.

Further, this engine will undergo four more tests for a cumulative duration of 1810 seconds. Subsequently, one more engine will undergo two short-duration tests & one long-duration test to complete the cryogenic engine qualification for Gaganyaan Programme.

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.

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India Moves Forward with Plans to Privatize Production of Launch Vehicles

GSLV Mark III inaugural flight test. (Credit: ISRO)

India is moving forward with transferring production of its government-built launch vehicles to private companies, Outlook India reports.

The Department of Space (DoS) plans to realise entirely-built rockets — GSLV-Mk III and SSLV — from Indian industry partners, in addition to PSLV, according to a top official of its commercial arm NSIL.

NSIL (NewSpace India Limited) has received three bids — HAL-L&T, BEL-Adani-BEML, and BHEL, in response to the request for proposal (RFP) floated by it for end-to-end production of PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle).

“We are now going through the techno-commercial evaluation (in respect of the three bids)”, NSIL Chairman and Managing Director, D Radhakrishnan, told PTI here.

He said the process will be completed within the next two months with one of the bidders bagging the contract. The selected bidder will be responsible for realisation of five numbers of PSLV.

GSLV-Mk III is India’s most powerful satellite booster. It will be used to launch ISRO’s Gaganyaan crewed spacecraft. SSLV is the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, whose maiden flight has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Successful Hot Test of Gaganyaan Service Module Propulsion System – System Demonstration Model (SDM)

Gaganyaan Service module propulsion system demonstration module. (Credit: ISRO)

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — On August 28, 2021, ISRO successfully conducted the first hot test of the System Demonstration Model (SDM) of the Gaganyaan Service Module Propulsion System for a duration of 450 seconds at the test facility of ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

The system performance met the test objectives and there was a close match with the pre-test predictions. Further, a series of hot tests are planned to simulate various mission conditions as well as off-nominal conditions.

The Service Module is part of the Gaganyaan Orbital module and is located below the crew module and remains connected to it until re-entry. The Service Module (SM) Propulsion System consists of a unified bipropellant system consisting of 5 nos. of 440 N thrust engines and 16 nos. of 100 N Reaction Control system (RCS) thrusters with MON-3 and MMH as Oxidizer and Fuel respectively.

The System Demonstration Model (SDM), consisting of 5 nos. of 440 N engines and 8 nos. of 100 N thrusters, was realized to qualify the propulsion system performance in ground. A new test facility is established at IPRC, Mahendragiri for testing the SDM.

Third Successful Vikas Engine Long Duration Hot Test for ISRO’s Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Program

Vikas engine hot fire (Credit: ISRO)

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — On July 14, 2021, ISRO has successfully conducted the third long duration hot test of the liquid propellant Vikas engine for the core L110 liquid stage of the human rated GSLV Mk III vehicle, as part of the engine qualification requirements for the Gaganyaan Programme.

The engine was fired for a duration of 240 seconds at the engine test facility of ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu. The performance of the engine met the test objectives and the engine parameters were closely matching with the predictions during the entire duration of the test.

Launch 2020: India’s Flight Rate Declined Due to COVID-19, but Nation Moved Forward with Commercialization

PSLV-C50 lifts off with the CMS-01 satellite. (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s growing space program managed only two domestic launches last year as it was forced to delay the Gaganyaan human spaceflight program and several other high profile projects.

However, India was able to move forward last year on a sweeping commercialization of its state-controlled space industry designed to make the country internationally competitive.

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CNES to Provide Training, Equipment for India’s Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Program

Capsule descending under parachute (Credit: ISRO)

BANGALORE, India (CNES PR) — On Thursday April 15, 2020, as part of the trip to India of Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, CNES and ISRO, the Indian space agency, announced in Bangalore, at the human spaceflight center, a new space cooperation agreement. France will participate in the Indian Gaganyaan manned space flight program.

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ISRO Chairman K Sivan Lays Out 10 Year Plan for Indian Space Program

Dr. K Sivan (Credit: ISRO)

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — In the future, when we look back upon the year 2020, we will be reminded of the trials and tribulations caused in our official as well as personal lives, owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Notwithstanding this situation, huge quantity of work progressed in virtual mode in design and development of systems.

Gaganyaan & Chandrayaan-3 major technical issues were addressed. The concept of virtual LCC and SCC got evolved and implemented. In fact, this mode of work appears to be more efficient and can be the new normal. Even where field work was involved, the activities were completed with minimum travel and social distancing.

And thanks to the dedicated and hardworking personnel, who carried on the torch of progress and made sure that we complete two hugely successful launches by the end of the year. These achievements, even during hard times, in the face of financial & human resource constraints, is truly commendable and speaks volumes about the resourcefulness of team ISRO.

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ISRO Chairman Given 1-Year Extension of Term

Dr. K Sivan (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO Chairman K Sivan has been given an one-year extension to his term, postponing his planned Jan. 14, 2021 retirement date.

Sivan, 63, was appointed ISRO chairman in January 2018. He joined ISRO in 1982 and previously served as director of the space agency’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre.

In an interview with the Times of India, Sivan said he would do his best to move the Gaganyaan human spaceflight program toward a crew launch by the August 2022 deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Other priorities include continuing the ongoing commercialization reforms of the Indian space industry and fast tracking the launch of the Chandrayaan-3 lunar landing mission.

Governments Maintain Firm Financial Commitment to Space Amid Global Economic Turbulence

Paris, Washington D.C., Montreal, Yokohama (Euroconsult PR) – Amid a tumultuous year for the global economy, government space program budgets maintained their growth trajectories for a fifth consecutive year. Following a period of strong budget tensions between 2010 and 2015, government space sector spending reached its highest recorded point in 2020 according to Euroconsult’s latest “Government Space Programs: Benchmarks, Profiles & Forecasts to 2029” flagship research. With Covid-19 having no noticeable impact on government space budgets, the pandemic having occurred with budgets largely already decided, it remains however to be seen, whether governments can sustain these historic budget levels in the future.  

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India’s Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Program Delayed by 1 Year Due to Covid-19

Capsule descending under parachute (Credit: ISRO)

PTI reports that India’s human space flight program is likely to be delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As per the mandate of Gaganyaan, two uncrewed missions would be undertaken prior to the manned mission. Accordingly, the unmanned missions were slated for launch in December 2020 and July 2021, and the first manned mission was scheduled in December 2021.

“That will be delayed because of COVID,” ISRO Chairman, Kailasavadivoo Sivan, told PTI. “We are targeting for sometime next year-end or the subsequent year,” he said on the expected time-line for the first of the two proposed uncrewed missions.

The Gaganyaan project has the objective of demonstrating human space flight capability to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) with three crew members in orbit and safely recovering them after the mission.

COVID-19 has significantly slowed India’s space program this year. ISRO typically launches about six times annually. The space agency launched for the first time and only time this year on Nov. 7. ISRO’s second and possibly final launch of 2020 is scheduled for Nov. 14.

Indian Pilots Continue Spaceflight Training at Gagarin Center in Russia

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The Indian cosmonauts are undergoing training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) following the courses of the general space training program and of the systems of the Soyuz MS crewed spacecraft. The completion of their training at GCTC is scheduled for the first quarter of 2021.

The contract for the Indian candidates’ training for a spaceflight was signed between Gavkosmos and the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation on June 27, 2019.  On February 10, 2020, GCTC started training of the four Indian cosmonauts.

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