Gaganyaan: ISRO tests parachutes that will bring Indian astronauts to Earth from space

science Technology

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has finished a significant Gaganyaan mission development test a day after successfully launching India’s first privately built rocket. India’s first manned space mission, Gaganyaan, is scheduled to launch the following year.

The “Integrated Main Parachute Airdrop Test (IMAT)” of the crew module deceleration system was carried out by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) at the Babina Field Fire Range (BFFR) in the Uttar Pradesh district of Jhansi. Given India’s aspirations to launch the first astronaut mission from the ground by next year, the test is noteworthy.

Using an IL-76 aircraft from the Indian Air Force, a 5-ton dummy mass—equivalent to the Crew module mass—was flown to a height of 2.5 kilometres before being released. The Main parachutes were pulled after two tiny pyro-based mortar-deployed pilot parachutes.

ISRO stated, “For Gaganyaan Crew module, the Parachute system consists of a total of 10 parachutes. In flight, the parachute sequence starts with deployment of 2 Nos. of Apex cover separation parachutes (protection cover for the Crew Module Parachute compartment) followed by 2 Nos. of Drogue parachute deployment to stabilize & bring down the velocity.”

The third main chute is unnecessary, according to the Indian space agency, and only two of the three are needed to land astronauts on the planet. In the meantime, complex testing procedures must be used to evaluate the performance of each parachute, with smaller parachute tests using the Rail Track Rocket Sled (RTRS) and larger parachute tests using aircraft or helicopters.

Before the parachute system is declared qualified to be utilised in the first human spaceflight mission, a series of tests are planned to replicate various failure conditions of the system. The test on Saturday simulated a specific scenario in which one Main parachute failed to open.

The test demonstrated that the Main parachutes’ full inflation lowered the payload’s speed to a safe landing speed because the entire operation took around 2-3 minutes and the cargo mass softly touched the ground.

Isro said, “Design and development of the Parachute based Deceleration system for Crew module is a joint venture between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and with this test, a significant milestone toward realizing the nation’s ambitious Gaganyaan project is achieved.”

Before Indian astronauts board Gaganyaan to travel into space, ISRO plans to fly two unmanned demonstration missions. Uncrewed tests are anticipated to take place in 2023.