Gaganyaan's first test flight lifts off after brief glitch
The uncrewed flight test with a single-stage liquid propulsion rocket, equipped with a Crew Module and Crew Escape System, lifted-off from SDSC.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Saturday successfully launched the first flight test for its Gaganyaan mission at 10am from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Andhra Pradesh's Sriharikota.
"Reason for the launch hold is identified and corrected. The launch is planned at 10:00 Hrs. today," the space agency said on X.
The uncrewed flight test with a single-stage liquid propulsion rocket, equipped with a Crew Module and Crew Escape System, was earlier scheduled to lift off at 8am on Saturday. Then it was rescheduled to 8:30am and 8:45am before it was rescheduled at 10am.
"The liftoff attempt of TV-D1 could not happen today. The liftoff was first rescheduled from 8am to 8.45am due to the weather situation. We had a smooth automatic landing sequence (ALS) leading up to the command to liftoff the engine but the engine ignition has not happened in the normal course," ISRO chief Somanath said after the launch was put on hold just five seconds ahead of the scheduled lift-off.
He had stressed that while the space agency is trying to assess what went wrong, the entire launch vehicle is safe and they will be announcing a revised date for the launch soon.
"The ground checkout computer that performs the function of the liftoff has withheld the launch in view of the anomaly observed," he further said.
The flight test, being designated as the Test Vehicle Development Flight Mission-1 (TV-D1 Flight Test), will demonstrate the performance and safety of the crew module and crew escape system as part of the Gaganyaan mission. It will also test the safe landing in the Bay of Bengal after the rocket launch.
The vehicle is 34.9 metres tall and has a lift-off weight of 44 tonnes. The structure of the TV-D1 flight is a single-walled unpressurised aluminium structure with a simulated thermal protection system.
The crew module, a habitable space with an Earth-like environment in space for the crew, consists of a pressurised metallic 'inner structure' and an unpressurised 'external structure' with 'thermal protection systems'. It is also equipped with crew interfaces, life support system, avionics and deceleration systems and is also designed for re-entry to ensure the safety of the crew during the descent till touchdown.
The entire test flight sequence is expected to be brief as the Test Vehicle Abort Mission (TV-D1) would have launched the crew escape system and crew module at an altitude of 17 km which was expected to make a safe touchdown in the sea, about 10 km from Sriharikota on India's eastern coast. They would have later be retrieved by the Navy from the Bay of Bengal.
According to ISRO, the success of the test flight will set the stage for the remaining qualification tests including around 20 major tests with 3 uncrewed missions of the Human Rated Launch Vehicle (HLVM3), subsequently leading to the launch of the Gaganyaan mission.
The highly anticipated Gaganyaan mission aims to send humans into space on a Low Earth Orbit at an altitude of 400 km for a three-day mission, with a safe return to Earth scheduled for 2025, thus making India the fourth nation to launch a manned spaceflight mission after the US, Russia, and China.
Ahead of the launch, the crew module underwent various tests at ISRO centres before it was integrated into the launch complex in Sriharikota.
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