India’s space agency, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), is gearing up for one of its most crucial missions after years of preparation. The agency recently announced plans to conduct the maiden test of the Gaganyaan space capsule at the beginning of next year, followed by a manned flight a few months later. The Indian GSLV Mark 3 rocket has been selected as the carrier system for these missions.
India has been making significant progress in space exploration, and the country is on track to join the ranks of the world’s elite in this field. Despite the significant advantage enjoyed by the United States and China, India is making steady progress, which is gradually increasing its space exploration capabilities. The Gaganyaan space capsule test flight is an important mission that will take three astronauts to Earth orbit, and after a few days, they will safely return to Earth, subject to a successful demonstration of its capabilities.
The head of ISRO recently announced that the launch of the GSLV Mark 3 rocket, which will carry the capsule into space for the first time, is scheduled for February 2024. Furthermore, the first manned mission is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2024, and the selected astronauts are undergoing training in the Indian city of Bengaluru. Although the three-person crew was initially scheduled to make a several-day flight into Earth orbit at the end of 2021, the mission was postponed due to various problems resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, budget constraints, and organizational challenges.
Although the names of the four pilots selected for the mission have not been disclosed, we know that Indian astronauts underwent specialized training at the Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow in 2020. Although the design work was suspended for a while, the Indian Space Research Organization resumed a series of tests necessary to refine procedures and equipment for the Gaganyaan spaceflight program at the beginning of February this year.
It is worth noting that India plans to build a national orbital station within approximately five years of the successful demonstration of the Gaganyaan vehicle’s capabilities. The Indian-designed station, weighing around 20 tons, will comprise two modules and be adapted for astronauts to stay on board for up to three weeks. Compared to earlier orbital structures of this kind, India’s design is reminiscent of the Soviet Salyut stations that operated in the 1970s and 1980s.