India is developing critical technologies for launching manned missions in space and preparing a document on it, a top official said on Saturday.
“Critical technologies are being developed for our human space programme as it is India’s dream to put a man in space. A mission document is in the making,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K. Sivan told the media at an aerospace event.
Citing the space agency’s successful maiden unmanned pad abort test on Thursday at its Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh for the safe escape of the crew in an emergency, Sivan said that very complex technology was used for the trial, with a unique motor for fast-burning.
“The technology is very essential for our manned missions in the future, as the motor’s performance was very good. Using aerodynamics, the module was turned in a favourable direction to open the parachutes,” he said.
The state-run ISRO’s technology demonstrator is the first in a series of tests to qualify as a crew escape system, critical for a manned mission.
“We are only in the preparation stage. We need to develop much more. We are in the process of refining a document on the manned mission for review and interactions with stakeholders, including the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL),” said Sivan.
The crew escape system is an emergency escape measure designed to quickly pull the crew module along with the astronauts to a safe distance from the launch vehicle in the event of a launch abort.
The first pad abort test demonstrated the safe recovery of the crew module in case of any exigency at the launch pad,” ISRO said in a statement earlier.
Admitting that the scientists had to work on the next strategy for the manned mission testing, Sivan said ISRO’s work was two-pronged, with one on approved projects and the other for research and development (R&D).
“The pad abort test for the crew escape system is part of our R&D work,” he noted.
The space agency also tested five new technologies during the pad abort test, as part of its strategy to develop long-term technologies.
“We and the government work on a three-year plan, with a seven-year strategy and a 15-year vision,” asserted Sivan.
Noting that space tourism would happen in the near future, the rocket scientist said it would take at least 15 years to develop the vehicle to go to space and return to the Earth.
“We are not close to that. We need to work a lot towards achieving the dream of putting a man into space,” added Sivan.
After a 5-hour countdown, the crew escape system lifted off with the 12.6 tonne simulated crew module from the spaceport and plunged into the sea (Bay of Bengal) 4 minutes and 19 seconds later with two parachutes, around 2.9 km away from Sriharikota, about 90km northeast of Chennai.
“The crew module soared 2.7 km altitude on thrust of its seven solid motors without exceeding the safe G (gravity) levels,” added the statement.