Environmental Control and Life Support System of International Space Station developed by NASA
The Gaganyaan project aims to showcase India’s prowess in human spaceflight, propelling a crew to a 400 km orbit and safely returning them to Indian sea waters by 2025
Somanath affirmed ISRO’s commitment to indigenous development, leveraging existing knowledge and local industries. He outlined the challenges confronting the Gaganyaan program. Emphasising the nation’s dedication to skill-building and design enhancement. ISRO Chairman S Somanath declared the agency’s determination to independently engineer the Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) for the impending Gaganyaan mission.
“We have no experience in developing an environmental control life support system. We were only designing rockets and satellites. We thought that this knowledge would come from other nations, but unfortunately after so much discussion, nobody is willing to give it to us,” Somanath said.
The Gaganyaan project aims to showcase India’s prowess in human spaceflight, propelling a crew to a 400 km orbit and safely returning them to Indian sea waters by 2025.
Expressing ISRO’s initial lack of expertise in ECLSS development, Somanath highlighted their historical focus on rocket and satellite design. Despite pursuing collaboration, no country was willing to share the crucial knowledge, prompting the decision to domestically craft the system.
Addressing the Manohar Parrikar Vidnyan Mahotsav 2023 in Dona Paula, Somanath affirmed ISRO’s commitment to indigenous development, leveraging existing knowledge and local industries.
He outlined the challenges confronting the Gaganyaan programme, emphasising the nation’s dedication to skill-building and design enhancement. Somanath stressed the need for heightened skill and confidence for successful human space travel. “When we send humans to space through our Gaganyaan programme, I think the amount of skill and confidence that we need to have has to be higher than what we currently have,” he said.
Acknowledging the inherent risk in rocket launches, Somanath underscored the imperative of safeguarding astronauts against failures. He underscored ISRO’s ongoing efforts in embedding intelligence within rockets, employing sensor data, artificial intelligence, and swift decision-making to avert potential failures.
Highlighting the need for split-second decisions during contingencies, he emphasised the development of technologies to pre-emptively handle rocket failures, integrating available data and synthesising solutions.
In pursuit of human space flight capabilities, ISRO remains committed to pioneering new technologies essential for astronaut safety and mission success.
“And if it goes wrong, then there is nobody who is able to correct it or adjust it. Thousands of elements should work without any flaw to make a launch happen. When you have a failure possibility, then you must have protection against it in human space flight. This is a core of human space flight – that we should not put the risk of having the astronaut lost due to the failure in the rocket. So it calls for intelligence in the rocket. This is what we are working on today,” he said.
“Then you have to tell the rocket that you are going to fail now and you better abort even before failure happens. This is a challenge of working on intelligence in the rocket and we are working on such technologies today, looking at the data which is available in measurements and then making a synthesis of it,” he added.