Gaganyaan Mission: ISRO Prepares for Unmanned Flight Tests, TV-D1 Readied



**Preparations Underway for Gaganyaan Mission’s First Flight Test Vehicle Abort Mission-1 (TV-D1)**

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has initiated preparations for the Flight Test Vehicle Abort Mission-1 (TV-D1), marking a significant step in the Gaganyaan mission. With the aim of demonstrating the performance of the Crew Escape System, the uncrewed flight tests for the Gaganyaan mission will commence soon. The TV-D1 is expected to take place by the end of October 2023 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota (SDSC-SHAR).

Crew Module (CM) Development for Gaganyaan Mission

According to ISRO, the Crew Module (CM) for the Gaganyaan mission is currently in various stages of development. However, for the TV-D1, an unpressurized version of the CM has completed integration and testing and is ready to be transported to the launch complex. This unpressurized CM version has the same size and mass as the actual Gaganyaan CM and houses all the systems required for deceleration and recovery. Equipped with a complete set of parachutes, recovery aids, actuation systems, and pyros, the CM is extensively instrumented to capture flight data and evaluate the performance of various systems.

Recovery of the CM

After the touchdown in the Bay of Bengal, the CM will be recovered using a dedicated vessel and a diving team from the Indian Navy. The process involves careful retrieval of the CM, which is critical for the success of the mission.

The Test Vehicle for TV-D1 Mission

The Test Vehicle for the TV-D1 mission is a single-stage liquid rocket specifically developed for this abort mission. It consists of the CM and Crew Escape Systems (CES) with their fast-acting solid motors, along with CM fairing (CMF) and Interface Adapters. This flight will simulate the abort condition during the ascent trajectory, corresponding to a Mach number of 1.2 encountered in the Gaganyaan mission.

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Autonomous Abort Sequence

At an altitude of approximately 17 km, the CES with CM will be separated from the Test Vehicle, initiating an autonomous abort sequence. This includes the deployment of a series of parachutes and culminates in the safe touchdown of the CM in the sea, around 10 km from the coast of Sriharikota.

Testing and Integration Processes

Before the final integration to the Test Vehicle at the Launch Pad, the CM, after integration, underwent various electrical testing, including an acoustic test, at ISRO’s facility in Bengaluru. Subsequently, it was dispatched to SDSC-SHAR on August 13 for vibration tests and pre-integration with the CES. The Test Vehicle mission with this CM represents a significant milestone for the Gaganyaan program, as it showcases a nearly complete integrated system for a flight test. The success of this test flight will pave the way for the remaining qualification tests and unmanned missions, leading to the first Gaganyaan mission with Indian Astronauts.

Gaganyaan Mission’s Objective

The ultimate goal of the Gaganyaan mission is to demonstrate India’s capability to launch three crew members to low earth orbit and bring them back safely to the Earth by landing in either the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea. To achieve this objective, four astronauts, who have been selected, are currently undergoing crew training and Gaganyaan Mission-specific training at the Astronaut Training Facility in Bengaluru.

In conclusion, the preparations for the Flight Test Vehicle Abort Mission-1 (TV-D1) are in full swing, as ISRO gears up for uncrewed flight tests as part of the Gaganyaan mission. With its focus on the Crew Escape System’s performance, this mission represents a crucial step towards eventually sending Indian Astronauts into space. As the countdown begins, all eyes are on the end of October 2023, when TV-D1 is expected to be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

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