India modifies human spaceflight programme for Gaganyaan, stalls Chandrayaan-3

After COVID-19-related setbacks, India has modified target dates for deployments of its human space flights and Chandrayaan-3 lunar touchdown. The launch was scheduled for August 2022 by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Indian independence. Even so, after the second uncrewed flight test now scheduled for 2022-23, the first human spaceflight demo will now proceed, Chairman K Sivan stated.

In December this year, ISRO is planning the first uncrewed flight test. As per the Times of India, the project will include the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III rocket, which is human-rated, with an updated upper phase compliant with a crew module as well as a crew escape system. After the Gaganyaan mission’s official declaration in August 2018, the first uncrewed mission was originally expected to be conducted in December 2020. In late last year, India announced that because of COVID-19, the Gaganyaan venture would be “slightly halted.”

Three astronauts and one backup would carry the very first crewed mission. In Russia, the four pilots chosen for the program engage in astronaut school. India aims to join the United States, Russia, and China as the only nations to have developed independent capabilities for human spaceflight. The nation is also aiming beyond the low Earth orbit at this early point.

The Department of Space of India recently published into the public domain the proposed “Humans in Space Policy” for feedback and recommendations ahead of possible cabinet approval. The paper notes that the “Humans in Space Policy aims to ensure a continuous human presence in the space as a tool for production, innovation, and collaboration, which is in line with national interests.” The Department of Space is required to “define[a] clear long-term roadmap for continuous human habitation in the low-earth orbit and conduct exploration missions outside low-earth orbit” in pursuit of the draft.

As reported, restorative life support programs, rendezvous as well as docking systems, inflatable habitats, and the extravehicular activity suits are essential innovations for facilitating continuous human presence in the LEO and even beyond. The use of international cooperation, the creation of habitats, the promotion of entrepreneurship, and public participation enhancement are also recognized as the main tasks.

India’s third moon flight, Chandrayaan-3, is probably to fall to the 2022, ISRO chairperson K Sivan informed the news agency, Press Trust of India. A lander, as well as a small rover identical to Chandrayaan-2, will be involved in the flight, but no orbiter.

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