Gaganyaan: India’s First Manned Mission To Space
Gaganyaan is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft that will send 3 astronauts to space for seven days by 2022. It is a part of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme.
Gaganyaan will orbit the Earth at 400 km height for seven days with three persons on board. It will be launched on GSLV Mk III. GSLV Mk III, is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle which has two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage.
GSLV Mk III is designed to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
- It will open arena of space to more emerging space technologies and would be a watershed moment in the history of Indian space programme.
- India will be the 4th country to send human crew into space.
- ISRO will achieve higher reliability in launch and satellite technology.
Challenges a Space Voyager Faces
- Gravity Field: Transitioning from one gravity field to another is tricky. It affects hand-eye and head-eye coordination. NASA has learned that without gravity working on the human body, bones lose minerals. Even after an astronaut return from a space mission, he could be at greater risk of osteoporosis-related fractures. If he does not exercise and eat properly, he will lose muscle strength and might also develop vision problems.
- Isolation: No matter how well trained an astronaut is, behavioural issues are likely to crop up. Due to isolation, he may encounter depression, fatigue, sleep disorder and psychiatric disorders.
- Radiation: In space stations, astronauts receive over ten times the radiation than what people are subjected to on Earth. Radiation exposure may increase the risk of cancer. It can damage the central nervous system. Radiation can also cause nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and fatigue.
- Rockets: Rockets are extreme machines. Travelling in a rocket is like sitting on an exploding bomb which will push your speed from 0 kmph to 29,000 kmph in less than 30 minutes. Many things can go wrong during the launch phase, including the rocket exploding into a fireball. Many safety features have to be built into rocket systems to ensure the probability of loss of life is minimized. However, testing of all these systems in an actual operating environment is next to impossible and a calculated risk has to be taken while embarking on such a mission.
- Hostile Environment: Space is hostile. In addition to lack of gravity and danger of radiation, there is no atmosphere. Human blood starts boiling if there is no pressure. The ‘Gaganyaan’ has to create an atmosphere like Earth inside a small volume and ensure that adequate supply of oxygen, removal of carbon-dioxide and comfortable temperature and humidity levels are maintained throughout the mission.
- There’s a lot that ISRO still needs to do before sending an astronaut to space on the planned maiden Gaganyaan mission.
- Training and capacity building of astronauts for the challenging environment.
- Conducting unmanned test missions with a humanoid dummy to get better insight and ward-off any technical fault.
- Conducting microgravity experiments for better simulation of outer space and removal of technical glitches.
- Co-operation and collaboration with experienced nations such as USA and Russia for necessary technical advisories. For example Russia has announced its support in building space suit and training of Gaganauts.