Isro gears up for tech demo towards human space flight

  • Vanita Srivastava, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 29, 2014 21:48 IST

Less than three months after successfully putting Mangalyaan into Mars, scientists at Indian Space Research Organisation are now gearing up for technology demonstration of what can be a step towards long term goal of human space flight - through the launch of India's heaviest rocket GSLV Mk III.

This will come just a few days after the launch of GSAT-16 on December 5 from French Guiana.

The launch can happen anytime between December 15 and 19 and will be an experimental one with a dummy cryogenic engine.

"Safety and reliability are of paramount importance for any human spaceflight. These were done as part of the pre-project activities during the recent years, using synergy of several national institutions and Isro," chairman of Isro, Dr K Radhakrishnan, said.

Space Application Centre director Dr Kiran Kumar said: "There will be a crew module as a dummy payload and a dummy cryogenic engine for weight simulation. The experimental flight with the crew module in a spacecraft will go up to 100-120 km above earth to test whether its heat shield survives very high temperatures (about 1, 500 degrees Celsius) during the re-entry into the atmosphere."

The Mk III will test the recovery of a dummy crew module from sea. The module is the core of a future Human Space Project. The success of this will form the basis of a future human space project.

The velocity reached will be 5 km per second. "The parachute will reduce the speed of the crew module before it finally touches the Bay of Bengal."

In 2007, Isro had carried out a similar experiment on a smaller scale - satellite recovery experiment - in which the module had orbited around the earth for 15 days before entering back.

The crew module will, however, not encounter the same level of friction as that in the final encounter.

After the experiment is a success, the launch can be done after some months with an actual cryogenic engine.

The GSLV Mk III is conceived and designed to make Isro fully self-reliant in launching heavier communication satellites of INSAT-4 class, which weigh 4500-5000 kg. It would also enhance the capability of the country to be a competitive player in the multimillion dollar commercial launch market. The rocket weighs 630 tonnes and is 42.4 metres tall.

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