ISRO Achieves Important Milestone In Gaganyaan Project Through Successful Test Of Escape Motor


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Wednesday, August 10, achieved an important milestone in the Gaganyaan Project. ISRO conducted a successful test-fire of the Low Altitude Escape Motor (LEM) of the Crew Escape System (CES), which will take the Gaganyaan crew module away from the launch vehicle in case any mishap occurs during the actual mission.

Thus, the purpose of the CES is to rescue astronauts. 

The Low Altitude Escape Motor

According to ISRO, the LEM will provide the required thrust to the CES in case the mission needs to be aborted during the initial phase of the flight. The thrust is necessary to take the crew module away from the launch vehicle.

The LEM is a special purpose solid rocket motor that has four reverse flow nozzles. It generates a maximum seal level thrust of 842 kilonewtons, and has a burn time of 5.98 seconds. In conventional rocket motors, the nozzle end of the LEM is mounted at the rear end. But in the launch vehicle for the Gaganyaan mission, the nozzle end of the LEM is mounted at the fore end. 

Objectives Of The Static Test

The main objectives of the static test of the LEM are the evaluation of motor ballistic (relating to the science of the motion of projectiles) parameters, validation of motor subsystem performance, confirmation of design margins, evaluation of the thermal performance of nozzle liners, validation of the integrity of all interfaces, and the evaluation of side thrust due to misalignment, among others.

Gaganyaan Programme

The Gaganyaan Programme is India’s first human spaceflight programme. ISRO aims to send humans to low-Earth orbit as part of this programme.

The programme aims to demonstrate indigenous capability to undertake human spaceflight missions to low-Earth orbit.

Three flights will be sent into low-Earth orbit under the Gaganyaan Programme. These include two unmanned flights and one human spaceflight.

Gaganyaan 1 is the first of the two test flights. An uncrewed spacecraft that has the capacity to carry three persons to space is expected to be launched to space in late 2022.

Gaganyaan’s second uncrewed mission will be conducted at the end of 2022. Gaganyaan 2 will carry spacefaring human-robot Vyommitra to space. 

According to ISRO, the objectives of the uncrewed missions are technology demonstrGaganyaan 2 will carry spacefaring human-robot Vyommitra to space. ation, and safety and reliability verification. The missions are aimed at studying the spacecraft systems before conducting the first crewed spaceflight.

Gaganyaan 3, the first crewed Gaganyaan mission, will be launched in 2023. The astronaut trainees will be selected for a pool of test pilots, and will have to undergo fitness tests, and psychological and aeromedical evaluation. 

If Gaganyaan 3 is successful, India will become the fourth nation to independently send humans to space, after the Soviet Union, United States, and China. 

India’s next focus will be towards achieving a sustained human presence in space.