The Gaganyaan Mission was proposed in 2019 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is on track to launch the uncrewed Gaganyaan mission, which is part of the space agency’s ambitious project to send humans to space. The final call on the launch, likely in December, will be taken following assessment of the mission once the lockdown in Bengaluru is lifted, sources told IndiaToday.in.
Proposed in 2018, the mission has encountered several delays owing to the coronavirus pandemic. The Karnataka government had reimposed a lockdown earlier this year to contain the unabated spread of the virus. The lockdown is likely to be lifted by June 15.
“It is going fine, Covid-19 lockdown has had an impact but there is no delay as of now and once it is lifted the teams will meet and assess the situation before taking a final call,” the source said.
The Gaganyaan mission is a three-stage project which will see two uncrewed module launches before the astronauts, who are undergoing training in Russia, embark on the historic journey. While the first launch is scheduled for December this year, the second uncrewed launch is likely to take place in 2022-23 after which the full-scale crew launch will take place.
In her Budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the first unmanned launch is slated for December 2021.
The Covid-19 pandemic has played its part in delaying several other missions that were likely to be launched in 2021, the most important among them being the Aditya L1, which includes a satellite to study the Sun. Several other projects that are now delayed include three Earth observation satellites and two Small Satellite Launch Vehicles (SSLV).
“A lot of people are involved in the Gaganyaan mission, and we need to assess all core sectors working on the mission when the lockdown is lifted,” the source added. The lockdown has led to only a small percentage of work being done due to remote operations.
Apart from the uncrewed module launch, ISRO is also planning to launch a data relay satellite that will help maintain contact with the Gaganyaan mission. The Rs 800 crore has been approved and work is going on to launch the satellite that will help the ISRO ground control establish contact with Gaganyaan throughout the mission.
The Rs 10,000 crore Gaganyaan Mission was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018 and is likely to propel India in direct competition with the US and Russia which has so far dominated human space exploration.