The first crewless flight as part of the preparations for the ambitious Gaganyaan project originally planned for this year and then pushed to the first half of 2021 due toflight Covid-19, will now only happen at the end of next year. Isro will eventually also launch a second crewless flight, now scheduled for 2022 before launching humans into space.
Isro chairman K Sivan told TOI that the process of human rating is progressing well and is expected to be complete in the second half of next year. TOI was the first to report the postponement of the crewless/unmanned flight and also the fact that the human mission too is likely to miss its original deadline.
As part of the unmanned flight, Isro plans to send a humanoid (developed indigenously). In June, when it became clear that the first crewless flight won’t happen this year, Sivan had said: “Whether we will launch two unmanned missions next year will depend on the emerging situations, we will have to decide based on what happens in the coming months. If Covid effects continue further, we may have to revisit some of our plans.” It is now apparent that Isro will only be able to launch one crewless flight next year.
Human Rating & Pvt Players
Further, just last week Isro flagged off the first human rated S200 motor case for Gaganyaan’s first crewless mission. “The high thrust solid propellant strap-on boosters — S200 — play an important role in the human rated GSLV MkIII. In order to human rate the booster, many new design features have been introduced in the hardware,” Isro said.
Isro’s heavy lift launcher, GSLV MkIII — identified for the Gaganyaan Mission — is in the process of being human-rated. The human rating of the S200 motor case is another successful industry collaboration. “…The first critical booster segment of the motor case with a diameter of 3.2 meter, 8.5 meter in length and weighing 5.5 tonne has been indigenously developed and delivered by L&T,” Sivan said.
Describing it as a major achievement, Sivan said that the next step would be to achieve human rating of all the hardware required for the mission. S Somnath, director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) had earlier told TOI: “…The reliability targeted for human-rated launch vehicles is 0.99, which means statistically only 1 out of 100 can be unreliable. And, for the crew escape system, which is very crucial, we are targeting greater than 0.998, which means we want almost 100% reliability.”