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Monday, May 27, 2024

India’s Successful Unmanned Trial Run for Gaganyaan Orbital Mission

India's space agency plans to collaborate with Japan on a joint mission to send another probe to the Moon by 2025.

In a significant leap for India’s space exploration aspirations, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) achieved a remarkable feat with the successful launch of its first unmanned trial run for the Gaganyaan mission.

Gaganyaan, aptly named “Skycraft,” is a groundbreaking mission set to carry three astronauts into Earth’s orbit by 2025. The recent test focused on the emergency escape system, which demonstrated its efficiency by safely separating from the thruster and making a soft sea landing approximately 10 minutes after liftoff.

This achievement represents a crucial milestone for ISRO, marking its technical capabilities in preparation for the crewed mission. ISRO Chief S. Somanath expressed his delight, stating, “I am very happy to announce the successful accomplishment of the mission.” The test flight had its share of challenges, including a two-hour delay due to adverse weather conditions and a last-minute glitch in the engine. Nevertheless, ISRO’s persistence and dedication paid off.

India’s Ambitious Space Odyssey

Gaganyaan, with an estimated cost of $1.08 billion, signals a significant step in India’s space exploration journey. The mission plans to carry astronauts beyond Earth’s atmosphere for three days before ensuring their safe return with a soft landing in Indian territorial waters. This endeavor aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of sending an Indian to the Moon by 2040, following a year filled with achievements in India’s space program.

In August, India made history by becoming the fourth nation globally to land an unmanned craft on the Moon, joining the ranks of Russia, the United States, and China. The subsequent launch of a probe aimed at observing the Sun’s outermost layers from solar orbit further demonstrated India’s burgeoning space capabilities. India’s space program has steadily grown since its first lunar orbit mission in 2008, consistently matching the achievements of established space powers while keeping costs considerably lower.

Setting the Course for Future Missions

ISRO’s achievement with the Gaganyaan mission sets the stage for several forthcoming milestones. The agency is gearing up to conduct a series of 20 major tests, which include the launch of a robot into outer space. These tests are critical as ISRO aims to prepare for the final manned mission scheduled for 2025.

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Moreover, India’s space agency plans to collaborate with Japan on a joint mission to send another probe to the Moon by 2025, as well as an orbital mission to Venus within the next two years. Experts attribute India’s success in space exploration to its ability to adapt and build upon existing technology while benefiting from a pool of highly skilled engineers who earn a fraction of their foreign counterparts’ wages. The recent triumphs by ISRO have reinvigorated India’s ambitious space goals, with the nation setting its sights on a future that includes establishing a space station by 2035 and sending an astronaut to the Moon by 2040.