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GAGANYAAN MISSION; ISRO's Next Big Achievement ?

India has made significant advancements in space exploration in recent decades, all credit goes to ISRO, The Indian Space Research Organisation. It was launched in 1969 and ever since then, it has been a source of pride for India. It is one of the elite space organisations in the world with 124 spacecraft missions and 94 launches.


ISRO was in the headlines of every Media channel around the world for Its most recent achievement, the successful landing of Chandrayaan 3 near the Moon's south pole, making India the first nation to do so. ISRO was celebrated for their success, as they made a comeback after their mission Chandrayaan 2 failed.


Once again, ISRO is not ready to sit back. The Upcoming Gaganyaan Mission is a clear demonstration of India and ISRO's dedication to pushing the boundaries of space science and technology. This ambitious initiative aims to launch astronauts into space, marking a pivotal moment in India's space capabilities. Successfully achieving this mission will establish India as a member of the exclusive group of nations capable of human spaceflight.


ISRO's Gaganyaan program reached a milestone on October 21 with the first uncrewed test flight from Sriharikota. They launched the Test Vehicle - Demonstration (TV-D1), including a crew module and a crew-escape system (CES). The CES separated from the rocket at 12 km, climbed to 17 km, and splashed down. This successful test integrates most of the system for future trials and ensures crew safety. 16 parachute tests were conducted for TV-D1.


About the MISSION

The Gaganyaan project, named after the Sanskrit term for "craft" or "vehicle to the sky," with a budget of ₹90 billion allocated to it has been determined that the first human launch is likely to take place in 2025. Within the Gaganyaan Mission, ISRO aims to send a crew of three humans into orbit, with a planned three-day stay at an altitude of around 400 kilometres. The primary mission objective is to guarantee the safe return of the astronauts to Earth following this mission duration. 

Prior to sending astronauts into space, a series of unmanned test flights has to be conducted. These include two test trips with an unpressurized crew module and a final test with a pressurised module to simulate Earth's atmosphere. The Mission in total consists of around 20 significant tests, serving as vital components in the testing and validation process of the Gaganyaan mission. These tests play a crucial role in guaranteeing the mission's success and safety.

To achieve the Gaganyaan mission's goals, several critical technologies need to be developed, including a human-rated launch vehicle for crew transportation, a life support system to maintain a habitable environment in space, provisions for crew emergency escape, and the management of various aspects related to crew training, recovery, and rehabilitation.

If this ambitious project succeeds, India will join an elite group of countries, becoming only the fourth nation to send a human into space, following the achievements of the Soviet Union, the United States, and China in human spaceflight. 

The success of the Gaganyaan mission has the potential to usher in significant impacts, including advancements in space research and human space exploration. Furthermore, it can play a pivotal role in India's ambition to establish its own space station, bolstering the nation's capabilities in space research and exploration.


However, The Gaganyaan mission faces several critical challenges. Ensuring the GSLV Mk III reliability for human transport is a complex engineering task. Developing robust safety systems, including escape mechanisms and life support, demands advanced technology and testing. Astronaut training facilities in India are lacking, necessitating collaboration or significant domestic investment. Space debris in low Earth orbits poses a risk, requiring advanced tracking and avoidance strategies. Finally, the mission's substantial financial investment and sustainability for ongoing human space exploration demand strategic planning and efficient resource allocation for success.


ISRO's Remarkable evolution 


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), ranked as the world's sixth-largest space agency, has undergone a remarkable evolution. Its journey spans from transporting rocket cones on bicycles and using bullock carts, to transport satellites, to monumental achievements such as sending an orbiter to Mars on its first attempt and positioning India as a significant player in space exploration. 


Notably, ISRO has disrupted the space industry by achieving missions like Mangalyaan and Chandrayaan at remarkably modest budgets of $73 million and $75 million, respectively, which is considerably less than the budgets allocated to Hollywood science fiction blockbusters like Gravity ($100 million) and The Martian ($108 million).


In their evolution, they had gone through major challenges. Primarily the restricted financial resources, as a government-backed entity, ISRO operates with a comparatively modest budget when compared to international agencies. Next, India produces exceptional talent, but many leave for better opportunities abroad, which can hinder the growth of the space sector. Geopolitical factors also complicate ISRO's space missions due to international policies, sanctions, and tech transfer restrictions. And lastly, A legislative framework for space activities, in the form of the draft Space Activities bill, was proposed in 2017 but has not been enacted to date.


Evenafter all these Challenges, ISRO's potential to become a leading space agency in the world has been seen by the world. In the realm of space exploration, risks and failures are inherent. ISRO has encountered its share of setbacks and failures on its journey. Yet, the organisation's resilience and dedication to learning from these failures have been evident. ISRO's capacity to rebound and achieve success hinges on its thorough analysis of failures, the implementation of corrective measures, and comprehensive reviews. These experiences have played a vital role in the ongoing enhancement of ISRO's technologies, processes, and systems.


Overall, the Gaganyaan mission represents a significant stride for India, offering the promise of economic growth, technological advancements, and enhanced global standing. ISRO's track record of launching cost-effective missions adds to the anticipation of Gaganyaan's success. This mission is poised to become the Indian Space Agency's next major achievement. To ensure its success, meticulous planning, precise execution, and a consistent allocation of resources are essential to establish Gaganyaan as a foundational milestone for future space exploration and technological progress. This mission has the potential to fulfill India's quest to showcase its ability to send astronauts into space as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called upon ISRO to aim for sending humans to the moon by 2040.



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