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ISRO gets crew module from HAL for first development launch of Gaganyaan

New Delhi: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has showcased two space equipment built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), to be used in the first unmanned development launch of India’s manned space mission, Gaganyaan. Announced by the Indian central space agency earlier today, this is the second crew module fairing (CMF) that ISRO has taken delivery of for Gaganyaan.

The CMF is a protective structure that surrounds the actual housing for India’s to-be space scientists, built to withstand extreme conditions of heat, pressure and atmospheric friction. The structure will be tasked with keeping astronauts safe during the egress, ingress and landing procedures of the Gaganyaan mission.

Unnikrishnan Nair, director of ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC), took delivery of the CMF structure, as well as a high-altitude escape motor Thrust-transfer Structure (HTS). The latter will be tasked with firing an escape motor to keep humans aboard the mission safe, and work towards transferring the requisite engine power to a crew escape module — in case of failure of any equipment aboard ISRO’s mission.

In June this year, ISRO’s VSSC also took delivery of the first CMF structure, built by Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Technology Limited. While both the CMF modules are likely to be used in some form, ISRO confirmed that the CMF it received from HAL earlier today would be used in the first trial or development mission of Gaganyaan.

In May this year, ISRO achieved human spaceflight rating, or validated its solid stage rocket booster for the Gaganyaan mission. The booster was a modified version of the solid rocket booster used in the agency’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)-Mark III, and will be used to power the Gaganyaan mission’s first stage.

On 30 June, speaking after the successful launch of ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)’s C-53 mission, S Somanath, chairman of ISRO, said that the Gaganyaan mission will go through multiple tests and development flights, and the manned mission launch will not happen any time before 2024. Highlighting the risks associated with human spaceflight, Somanath said that the agency would “like to do it very carefully”.

He added that concerns regarding the safety of astronauts aboard the Gaganyaan crew module can be alleviated by “ruggadising the object, testing it more number of times and introducing intelligence in the rocket so that it can identify problems, and let the aircraft know (how) pilots can escape.”

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