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India’s Manned Space Mission Is Delayed?!?! Deets Inside…..

India’s first manned space mission, Gaganyaan, is likely to be delayed by a year owing to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. “That (Ganganyaan mission) will be delayed because of Covid,” Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chairperson K Sivan told PTI. “We are targeting for some time next year-end or the subsequent year,” he said on being asked about the two unmanned missions that were to precede a Vyomnaut (as the Indian astronaut will be termed) being sent to space.The first of these was scheduled for December 2020, the second for June 2021, before the manned mission on December 2021. 

An Isro official clarified that a new timeline is not in place yet. “The pandemic has impacted most of the missions planned for this year and the next, including the Gaganyaan mission. A committee is currently reviewing all the missions and where we stand but there is no official timeline yet. This is because, other than Isro, many industries are involved in these missions and they are not working at 100% capacity yet. Once the industries apprise us of their timeline, we will be able to decide on the official dates for the mission,” the official said on condition of anonymity. 

This means that the mission is likely to miss the deadline set by the Prime Minister of August 2022. In his Independence Day address of 2018, the PM said that an Indian astronaut will be sent to space before the country celebrates its 75th year of Independence in 2022. Larsen and Turbo has already delivered one of the segments of the S200 rocket motor that will be used by the human-rated GSLV Mark III for the mission. The astronaut training is also underway in Russia, with the four trainees expected to return to India in March for training on the Indian system. 

Isro needs put in orbit two Indian Data Relay Satellite System (IDRSS) for communicating with the astronauts during the mission. In addition, the space agency also needs to complete at least three major tests– including an air drop test for the parachute system that will demonstrate the ability to successfully recover an orbiting space capsule, a flight of the test vehicle, and a pad abort test to demonstrate the escape of the crew in case of an emergency at the launch pad. 

“The Prime Minister had said that the mission would take place in the year when India celebrates its 75th year of Independence and that is still possible if full-fledged work begins on the mission by January next year. If first mission unmanned mission happens by April 2021, then the crewed flight could possible happen by end of 2022,” said Ajay Lele, Senior Fellow working with space security and strategic technologies at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.The pandemic has also delayed other big-ticket missions that Isro had planned for the year, including India’s first solar mission , Aditya L1, originally scheduled for mid-2020. 

“Space activity cannot be done through work from home. Each and every one of the space engineers has to be available in labs, industries, integration areas, as well as the field. Each engineer, technician, tech assistant has to come from different centres and work together for a launch. Hardware from different parts of the country has to be transported to SHAR (the launch site),” Sivan said after the first launch of the year took place on November 7, when India’s workhorse PSLV carried an Indian Earth Observation Satellite along with nine international satellites to orbit. The Isro chief said at the time that the PSLV would launch a communication satellite next, followed by the second earth observation satellite EOS 02 in its maiden flight. 

Apart from the solar mission, Isro was to also send a lander-rover mission to moon either by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021. “We have not yet fixed the schedule (for the Chandrayaan-3 launch),” Sivan told PTI.The space agency is reviewing all its future missions, including the Venus mission that had been planned for June 2023. If missed, the next launch window would be after 19 months (the planet has to be at its closest point to Earth at the time of launch).


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