Isro unveils humanoid that will take Gaganyaan flight
Isro chairperson K Sivan told HT that the humanoid Vyommitra would also be able to record biological parameters.
A woman humanoid, Vyommitra (literally friend of the sky), unveiled by the Indian Space research Organisation on Wednesday will travel to space on two unmanned flights of the Gaganyaan mission scheduled for December this year and June next year before the four men shortlisted to be India’s first astronauts or vyomanauts.
The humanoid who can talk and perform all functions of a crew was unveiled at a three-day symposium on “Human Spaceflight and Exploration” organised by the International Academy of Astronautics in Bengaluru.
“I am the prototype of the half-humanoid being made for the first unmanned Gaganyaan mission. I can monitor crew module parameters, alert you, and perform life-support operations. I mimic all crew activities like switch panel operations, ECLSS (environment control and life support system) functions, etc. I can also be your companion, can converse with the astronauts, recognise them and can also respond to their queries,” Vyommitra said, introducing herself.
Earlier this month, Isro chairperson K Sivan told HT that the humanoid would also be able to record biological parameters.
“The two unmanned flights will let us determine whether everything is working well, the environment in the modules remains under control, and it is safe for humans. Like any programmes, after two successful test flights we will undertake the operational flight,” Sivan added then.
At the symposium on Wednesday, the Isro chairperson also talked about the challenges and preparedness of India’s human spaceflight mission.
“Our Prime Minister announced Gaganyaan programme as a national goal to demonstrate human spaceflight capability before the 75th anniversary of India’s independence in 2022. It is a very ambitious target. However, this decision was taken knowing that Isro has already developed and demonstrated key technologies (required),” said Sivan.
For instance, Isro already has an operational launcher with 10-tonne payload capability to low earth orbits; it has demonstrated the working of a re-entry module; it has space-qualified parachutes for recovery of the astronauts; and it has tested a crew escape system.
“The only missing elements were the human life science and life support system, which we are developing them now. Isro created a vertical of human spaceflight in its portfolio,” he said. Apart from the Bengaluru-based Human Spaceflight Centre, Isro has also started work on establishing an astronaut training facility in Challakere, 200-km from Bengaluru.
The batch of four selected vyomanauts will be trained in Russia but those on all future missions will be trained at the 400-acre centre.
“We will set up our own astronaut training facility for all future missions. The Challakere centre will have facilities similar to those in Russia to train astronauts in space environment,” a senior official from Isro said on condition of anonymity.
The four selected vyomanauts will undergo physical training in Russia for 11 months, after which they will receive module-specific training in India. It is likely that the first manned mission carries just one astronaut and the duration may be much less than the planned seven days, Sivan said in the interview.
After the first manned mission scheduled for December 2021, Isro wants to have a sustained human spaceflight programme and has also announced the creation of its very own space station.
“Our short term goal is to ensure two unmanned and a manned spaceflight in December 2021. We have the goal of sustaining the human spaceflight programme and continued presence of humans in space on a new space station. As more and more nations come up with space programmes, one space station may not be sufficient to meet the global aspirations. Inter-planetary missions are also on Isro’s agenda in the long term,” Sivan said on Wednesday.
The space station, which will be developed by India indigenously, will weigh around 20 tonnes and be able to house astronauts for about 15 to 20 days in a 400 km low earth orbit.