In what way is Gaganyaan far more complex than Chandrayaan-2?
New Delhi, Sep 26: Despite setback in Chandrayaan-2 mission's final stage, ISRO has been able establish that it can develop complex technologies and the success of next major technologically challenging mission Gaganyaan, would surely establish India as a major space power.
ISRO has already proven its mettle in launching small-medium weight satellites into the orbit with its trusted workhorse PSLV. ISRO has now developed a medium lift launch vehicle GSLV Mk-3 which placed Chandrayaan-2 in orbit.
ISRO has sent probes to the Moon and Mars, but when sending humans to space is considered, the mission becomes complicated because the safety of lives is paramount. ISRO has undertaken a number of space programmes with great success rate, but sending a human being to space is a different ball game altogether. It is far more complicated than even Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan.
Other than these, ISRO also cannot rely on its workhorse PSLV. PSLV can carry payloads upto 2 tonnes, but a spacecraft carrying human beings is likely to weigh in excess of 5 to 6 tonnes. For this, ISRO has developed GSLV Mk-III which is a launch vehicle capable of carrying heavier payloads much further into the space. There are a number of new technologies that ISRO has to develop to successfully carry out Gaganyan.
A manned space mission is very different from all other missions that ISRO has so far completed. For a manned mission, the key distinguishing capabilities that ISRO has to develop include the ability to bring the spacecraft back to Earth after the flight, and to build a spacecraft in which astronauts can live in Earth-like conditions in space. All the missions so far, including the Mars and the Moon missions, did not involve bringing back the spacecraft into earth's atmosphere. Here, not only does the module needs to be brought, it has to be brought back safely as there would be humans in it.
Reentry and recovery technology:
All the ISRO missions so far involved sending satellites/orbiters out of the earth's atmosphere. But, when humans are being sent to space, then they have to be brought back, and that is a big technological challenge. When a spacecraft re-enters earth's atmosphere, it would have to withstand high temperatures, thousands of degrees, due to friction with the air. Even when a meteorite enters the earth, the earth's gravity speeds up its descent and this causes friction with the air. This friction increases the temperature so much that most of the meteorites just vapourise before reaching the earth's surface. This is the reason we see shooting stars.
Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment:
The Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) is an experimental test vehicle for the Indian Space Research Organisation's future ISRO orbital vehicle called Gaganyaan. It was launched successfully on 18 December 2014 from the Second Launch Pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, by a GSLV Mk III designated by ISRO as the LVM 3X CARE mission.
Launch escape system or Crew Escape Mechanism:
If something goes wrong at any point during the launch, then there has to be way for the crew to escape so that lives can be saved. The mechanism ensures the crew module gets an advance warning of anything going wrong with the rocket, and pulls it away to a safe distance, after which it can be landed either on sea or on land with the help of attached parachutes. The system is typically controlled by a combination of automatic rocket failure detection, and a manual backup for the crew commander's use.
When crew escape system saved lives:
There has only been one occurrence of a launch escape system being used during an active mission: In 1983, the crew of the Soviet Soyuz T-10-1 were carried away from their launch vehicle via their LES two seconds before the launch vehicle exploded due to a pad fire. The crew survived.
Apollo 1 disaster:
Planned as the first low Earth orbital test of the Apollo command and service module with a crew, to launch on February 21, 1967, the mission never flew; a cabin fire during a launch rehearsal test at Cape Kennedy Air Force Station Launch Complex 34 on January 27 killed all three crew members. Apollo was the name of the program to land the first men on the Moon.