Will conduct 6 test launches before manned mission, building some Gaganyaan systems in-house to cut cost: Isro chief


Isro will conduct six test missions, including three this year, before the final manned mission of Gaganyaan in 2024 involving three astronauts as the space agency “doesn’t want to take any chances with human lives”, Isro chairman S Somanath said on Wednesday.
Addressing the media on the sidelines of the Indian Science Congress, the Isro chief said that of the total six test missions, there will be four abort missions and two uncrewed missions. “Two abort missions and one uncrewed mission will be conducted this year in April-May. The remaining three will be conducted next year. And if all are successful, the final crew mission will be launched next year itself,” he said.
Pointing out that human spaceflight capability is not developed overnight and that countries have taken decades to acquire those technologies, he said, “We are trying to launch the mission in the shortest possible time of 4 years. Though the mission launch was originally scheduled for 2022, it has been delayed due to several reasons. We had earlier thought of buying some mission technologies like environmental control and life support for astronauts from abroad. But they are coming at an exorbitant price. So now we are building such systems in-house. So, it is taking time.”
About Chandrayaan-3, the Isro chairman said, “Satellite is in fully integrated condition. The lander and rover are ready. The moon mission can’t be launched any day. We are waiting for the best launch window. So, the next window is in June-July. GSLV-MkIII will be used for the mission”. He said, “The landing mission is more or less same as Chandrayaan-2 but this time our goal is to safely land the lander and rover. Therefore, we have made certain changes to the propulsion system, software and also added new sensors.”
He said the second development flight of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) is likely to be held next month. If the launch is successful, the SSLV, which can carry a payload up to 500kg, will be able to establish itself as a small launcher in the global market. The first SSLV launch was unsuccessful on August 7 last year.
On the Venus mission, Somanath said “a committee is currently screening all research papers to define the scientific objectives for the mission. We have also shortlisted labs and institutions that will be building instruments. Once they are finalised, we will ask the government for funds.” Isro is simultaneously working on the second Mars mission.


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