Prelims cum Mains Science & Tech

With human space flight, India to push frontiers

The News

In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister  announced that India will attempt a manned mission into space by 2022 on board ‘Gaganyaan’.


Key Highlights

  • The Indian first manned mission will carry 2 or 3 astronauts to space for at least 7 days.
  • The manned mission will travel to space on board GSLV Mark III vehicle.
  • A new dedicated control centre providing Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TTC) services for ‘Gaganyaan’ would be set up at ISTRAC, Bangalore.
  • ISRO, Indian Air Force and Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bengaluru, will train the astronauts.
  • If successful, India would be the fourth nation to send manned mission after the Russia, USA and China.



Key Technologies and their Status

The most critical elements of the human mission are

  1. Crew Module – GSLV Mk-III:
  • The crew module carrying human beings will weigh about 5 to 6 tonnes.
  • GSLV Mk-III with an indigenous cryogenic engine is capable of delivering heavier payloads deeper into space.


  • In 2014, ISRO successfully tested an experimental flight of GSLX Mk-III
  • In June 2017, ISRO successfully launched the first “developmental” flight of GSLV Mk-III carrying GSAT-19 satellite into space.
  • In June 2018, the government approved Rs 4,338.2 crore for the next 10 flights of GSLV Mk-III.
  1. Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry technology – CARE:
  • Satellites that are launched for communication or remote sensing are meant to remain in space.
  • However, a manned spacecraft needs to come back.
  • While reentering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft needs to withstand very high temperatures created due to friction.


  • A prior critical experiment was carried out in 2014 along with GSLV MK-III when the CARE (Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment) capsule successfully demonstrated that it could survive atmospheric re-entry.
  1. Crew Escape System – PAT:
  • The Crew Escape System is an emergency accident avoidance measure designed to quickly get astronauts and their spacecraft away from the launch vehicle if a malfunction occurs during the initial stage of the launch.


  • In July 2018, ISRO completed the first successful flight ‘pad abort test’ or Crew Escape System.
  1. Environmental Control & Life Support System ECLSS:
  • The crew module carrying human beings must have conditions inside suitable for humans to live comfortably.
  • ECLSS will
    • Maintain steady cabin pressure and air composition
    • Remove carbon dioxide and other harmful gases
    • Control temperature and humidity
    • Manage parameters like fire detection and suppression


  • The layout, design and configuration of ECLSS inside the crew module have been finalised.

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