Credit: ISRO

Media outlets in India are reporting that the country is moving forward on its Gaganyaan project – a plan by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to help India become the fourth nation able to independently rocket humans into Earth orbit by 2022.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad announced that the Union cabinet has approved a budget for the program.

Credit: ISRO

Large launcher

India’s NDTV reports there have been a number of developments within India’s Gaganyaan program.

India’s space agency ISRO hopes to deploy its biggest rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III), to send three Indians into space from the Sriharikota space port in Andhra Pradesh. GSLV Mk III is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster, and a cryogenic upper stage.

The space agency hopes to launch the first mission within 40 months. The plans in the “demonstration phase” includes undertaking two unmanned flights and one human flight using Indian technology to catapult a crew of three into a low earth orbit for 5-7 days.

Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE).
Credit: ISRO


Tight schedule

Dr K Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), commenting on the 2022 deadline, had earlier said it was a “very, very tight schedule but ISRO will do it.” India has inked agreements with Russia and France for assistance in Gaganyaan.

India plans to call its astronauts “Vyomnauts” since “Vyom” in Sanskrit means space.

ISRO has spent Rs. 173 crore developing critical technologies for human space flight. The plan was first pitched in 2008 but was put on the backburner as the economy and Indian rockets experienced setbacks.

Stepping stone successes

In 2014, India tested a Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE), where a 3,745 kg space capsule – a prototype of the crew module that will be used by the Indian astronauts – was launched into the atmosphere on the first flight of the GSLV Mk III and then safely recovered from the Bay of Bengal. CARE was designed to showcase blunt body re-entry aerothermodynamics and parachute deployment in cluster configuration.

Since then, ISRO has also mastered the art of making a spacesuit to be used by Indian astronauts.

Pad Abort Test.
Credit: ISRO

Earlier this year, ISRO carried out a crucial Pad Abort Test on July 5, using a 12.6-ton crew module. This escape measure is designed to quickly pull the astronaut-carrying crew module to a safe distance from the launch vehicle in the event of a launch abort.

The test took place at Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota.

Pad Abort Test capsule parachutes to watery touchdown.
Credit: ISRO

The crew module reached an altitude of nearly 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) under the power of its seven quick acting solid rocket motors.

Nearly 300 sensors recorded various mission performance parameters during the test flight.

The test was over in 259 seconds, during which the Crew Escape System along with crew module soared skyward, racing out over the Bay of Bengal and floated back to Earth under its parachutes about 2 miles ( 2.9 kilometers) from Sriharikota.

Credit: ISRO

Recovery experiment

In a human spaceflight-related test, back on January 10, 2007, ISRO launched the Space capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE-1).

Launched by a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C7) from Satish Dhawan Space Center (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota, SRE-1 was successfully recovered today on January 22, 2007 after being maneuvered to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and descend over the Bay of Bengal.

The SRE – 1 capsule weighed 1,213 pounds (550 kilograms) and demonstrated, among a host of technologies, development of reusable thermal protection system (TPS). The experiment tested lightweight silicon tiles that can protect a spaceship as it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere.










Go to this NDTV video about India’s human spaceflight plans:

Here’s a video of the pad abort test:

One Response to “India Puts in Motion Human Spaceflight Plan: Make way for “Vyomnauts””

  • Ryan Dommerman says:

    By the time India achieves human spaceflight the Bigelow Space Station concept should be underway. If they collaborate then by that time India may have a Space Station to fly to that is only a fraction of what the ISS cost to make. Which would also have the same living area. According to my sources inflatable Bigelow style stations will one day rule the sky for nations such as India.

    Good luck India and please help lead the way in the International Space Effort.

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