Isro’s ambitious plans: Uncrewed Gaganyaan mission could take off ahead of abort tests in 2024 | India News

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BENGALURU: Isro, which is gearing up to demonstrate at least one uncrewed mission under Gaganyaan this year — initial target is to achieve it in the first half — could carry out the first one independent of the planned abort tests on the special test vehicle, the first of which was done in October 2023.
S Somanath, chairman, Isro, told TOI: “We’re working on both — the first uncrewed mission and the second abort test on the test vehicle (TV-D2). Depending on the readiness, we will decide which one is to be launched first,” indicating that the first uncrewed mission could even happen before the TV-D2.
He said the abort missions are only a prerequisite for the crewed mission and not the uncrewed ones and added that the first uncrewed mission will not carry the service module while the space agency is targetting to send the half-humanoid, Vyomitra.
“We will finalise on whether Vyomitra will go as part of the first one at a later stage. We’ll need to carry out a minimum of two successful uncrewed missions before the final configuration and we should be able to launch at least one this year. The initial target is for the first half of 2024,” Somanath said.
The uncrewed missions are precursors that will test various technologies ahead of the crewed Gaganyaan mission which will demonstrate human spaceflight to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Isro, as part of this will also establish mission control, communication network and essential launch complex facilities.
“Demonstration of indigenous human space flight capability will lead to vision of a sustained human presence in LEO… Various key technologies that will be developed for Gaganyaan will pave the way for building up of more complex orbital modules and technologies for sustained human presence in space,” union minister Jitendra Singh had said recently.
More Launches
Somanath further said that the GSLV-MkII — now simply called GSLV — is already on the launchpad in Sriharikota. “We’ll launch the GSLV soon; once the satellite (Insat-3DS) is ready. The other big mission this year, of course, is the NISAR (NASA-Isro Synthetic Aperture Radar) mission,” Somanath said.
As reported by TOI earlier, GSLV’s Insat-3DS mission is key for the NASA-Isro joint mission as a lot hinges on the former’s success. The Isro chairman also said that 2024 would see a few commercial launches, something Space PSU NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) also confirmed to TOI.
Between 2014 and 2023, India launched 396 foreign satellites which earned a revenue of “$157 million and €260 million”. Comparatively, in the decade between 2003 and 2013, India launched 31 foreign satellites and earned “$15 million and €32 million”.

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