India plans to launch an empty Gaganyaan module on October 21

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ISRO postponed the launch of the Gaganyaan test flight to October 21 due to poor weather conditions. The Gaganyaan mission, which aims to send Indian astronauts into low Earth orbit, requires additional checks before the mission begins in 2024

After the successful Chandrayaan-3 mission to the Moon and the achievement of significant milestones in the Aditya-L1 mission for solar exploration, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is gearing up for another major space project – Gaganyaan. The Gaganyaan mission, which means “Sky Ship” in Sanskrit, is scheduled to launch before the end of 2024 to send at least three astronauts to low Earth orbit.

ISRO plans to launch the empty module from the Satish Dhawan Space Launch Center in India on October 21 and then return it to Earth as part of a test flight to test the effectiveness of the crew capsule’s escape system.

Indian astronauts into space
Indian astronauts into space

“The success of this test flight will be the starting point for the remaining qualification testing phases and uncrewed missions towards the maiden flight of Gaganyaan with Indian astronauts,” ISRO said.

India plans to launch an empty Gaganyaan module on October 21

The test flight module is similar to the one the crew will be in during the launch into space. The module will be launched using a single-stage liquid-propellant rocket developed specifically for this mission, which can simulate an emergency release situation – the real capsule will be installed on a 43.5-meter Launch Vehicle Mark-3 rocket with solid, liquid, and cryogenic stages. The latter recently received certification to launch missions with people on board.

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The test module will also help test other mission components, including the release parachutes, designed to stabilize and slow the spacecraft during reentry, and the descent assist activation systems. The launch on October 21 will test and evaluate the readiness of the emergency rescue system for a mission with astronauts.

The launch will simulate emergency conditions during ascent at Mach 1.2, as will be the case in the actual Gaganyaan mission. Then the emergency rescue system and parachute deployment are activated, and the mission will end with the safe descent of the space module into the ocean.

After returning to Earth, the module will be retrieved by an Indian Navy team in the Bay of Bengal. After this test flight, another one will be planned, during which a robot will be launched into space. This robot was named Vyommitra (“Vyommitra”, which means “cosmic friend” in Sanskrit).

At the moment, the module has undergone various forms of testing before its test flight, and it still faces vibration testing and integration with the rocket on the launch pad.