A mission like Gunyaan is considered to be the best class mission for space scientists of any country. Sending humans into space and bringing them back safely requires very advanced technological capabilities. Till now only America, former Soviet Union or Russia and China have been able to do this. And with the Gaganyaan mission, India will be able to become the fourth country to achieve this capability. Astronauts from some other countries including India have also gone on space travel, but they had to take help of spacecraft from other countries for this. With Gaganyaan, India wants to send its astronauts into space in a vehicle built by itself and from its own land.
The Gaganyaan mission was conceived in 2008 when an experiment was conducted to send and bring back a spacecraft during the tenure of ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair. When going above the earth, the velocity of the spacecraft remains low at first. Where this velocity increases, the density of the atmosphere decreases, due to which friction is reduced. But, at the time of return, the velocity while entering the atmosphere remains much higher. This causes a lot of friction which increases the temperature and in such a situation it is very important to save the vehicle. Such experiments were done earlier. Apart from these, an abort test was also done. An effort was made that if for some reason the rocket malfunctioned, the passengers sitting in it would have to be evacuated.
ISRO also conducted this test in 2018. Regarding Gaganyaan mission, two experiments will be conducted on 21st October. Firstly, it will be seen that the rocket goes up smoothly. Secondly, one more thing will be investigated due to which the problem arises. The rocket reaches supersonic speed at a height of 10 kilometers from the earth and then there is a risk of an accident. At this time, due to change in wind velocity the rocket may break apart. During launch, the rocket is sent based on the weather forecast for half an hour. But, if there is a sudden change in the wind speed in the upper atmosphere of 10 to 20 kilometers, and the rocket is going at supersonic speed, then the rocket can also break.
Actually, in such missions the rocket is launched in such a way that it follows the wind. But, if the direction of the rocket changes by more than two degrees from the direction of the wind, the rocket may break. In such a situation the rocket can become a ball of fire. Therefore, if such a situation arises, the passengers on board will have to be evacuated. This is called supersonic abort test. This very thing will be investigated during the experiment of Gaganyaan on 21st. In this, the vehicle will be aborted at an altitude of 17 kilometers and will be returned safely to the sea. After this, Gaganyaan will also be tested to see whether there is any leakage from the oxygen and nitrogen cylinders kept inside the vehicle due to pressure, and whether all the equipment is working or not.
After this, Gaganyaan will be sent into space once again in which the robot will be placed. In earlier missions, American scientists used to test chimpanzees and Russian scientists carried dogs in the spacecraft. But, now this cannot be done due to animal protection laws. Therefore, now robots will be sent and the pressures on the human body will be studied through the sensors installed on them. Only after these tests are completed will humans be sent into space through Gaganyaan. Such experiments will continue till 2025 and if any problem arises, they will have to be done again. If this happens, the time to send humans from Gaganyaan may increase further.
Apart from Gaganyaan, recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given green signal to two more big space missions. These include building India’s own space station by 2035 and a mission to send humans to the Moon by 2040. By building a space station, humans can stay there for a long time. Currently, in Gaganyaan or the mission to send humans to the Moon, passengers can return in five-seven days. But, if a mission to Mars is to be carried out, it will require a long stay in space. Therefore, by building a space station, scientists will be able to experiment on how astronauts can stay in space for a longer period of time. America, Russia, Canada, Japan and the European Space Agency have obtained this information by building international space stations.
After this, there is now talk of dismantling that station. India can also send its astronauts there. But, these countries will not share the information they have collected so far with India. In such a situation, India will have to make its own arrangements to achieve this, and that is why India wants to build its own space station. Apart from this, India wants to send its own passengers to the moon by 2040. Till now only America has been able to take man to the moon. Even Russia and China have not been able to do this. Therefore, the target that Prime Minister Modi has set now is a huge responsibility.
This is also very challenging and a timeline has also been set for it. This will take a lot of money and labor. This will require a change in the management and thinking of the space science sector in the country. Now there is no such situation that any satellite will be damaged. Now human life will become a question in these campaigns. Gaganyaan, space station and manned mission to the Moon are interrelated missions. These are important milestones in the direction of India’s space missions. These campaigns are also very important for the culture of science in the country. For a long time, youth in India have been leaving the country after studying because of more money and facilities. The success of India’s space missions is also important for the purpose of reversing the brain drain situation. This will prove that big works of science can be done even while living in the country and there is no need to leave the country for this.
(These are the personal views of the author.)