India will launch an unmanned crew module in December onboard a heavy rocket to test its re-entry into the atmosphere for the country’s maiden human space flight, the space agency chief said Thursday. Also Read - Starlink satellite broadband service faces challenge in India, Elon Musk led company questioned
“We will send an unmanned crew module on the experimental GSLV-Mark III rocket in December and test its re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere for a human space flight plan in future,” Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan told reporters in Bangalore on the margins of an engineers conclave. Also Read - Today's Google doodle is all about India's 'satellite man': Here's all you need to know
Weighing 3.6 tonnes, the crew module will be put into orbit 100-120km up in a satellite and brought back to Earth for checking its re-entry characteristics when carrying two Indian astronauts in the proposed human space flight. Also Read - ISRO joins hands with MapmyIndia to develop a Google Maps rival
“Though the actual human space flight will be in an orbit around earth at a height of 270km for a week, the experimental flight with the crew module in a spacecraft will go up to 100-120km above earth to test its heat shield survive very high temperatures (about 1,500 degrees Celsius) during the re-entry into the atmosphere,” Radhakrishnan noted.
The crew module will have a parachute that will open up after re-entry into the atmosphere and fall into sea for retrieval.
“The parachute will open up for soft landing of the spacecraft carrying the crew module in the Bay of Bengal, about 450 km away from Andamans (islands), and will be retrieved by a boat,” Radhakrishnan said.
The previous UPA government had sanctioned Rs. 145 crores to Isro for developing a crew module that will fly two Indian astronauts into space, space suits, life support systems and related technologies for the human space flight programme.
The heavy rocket (GSLV) will, however, have a passive cryogenic stage – liquid nitrogen at super cooled temperature and gaseous nitrogen instead of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
The space agency is integrating the rocket with the crew module at its Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh, about 90 km northeast of Chennai.