ISRO Gaganyaan Unmanned Test Flights Unlikely This Year

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It looks like the ISRO Gaganyaan mission will have a slight delay. As part of the Gaganyaan mission, ISRO was supposed to launch the first trial flight in December 2020. However, the ambitious human space flight program is facing some delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the induced lockdown.

 
ISRO Gaganyaan Unmanned Test Flights Unlikely This Year

ISRO Gaganyaan Test Flight Delay

Going into the details, ISRO had planned two trial flights without the crew, ahead of the actual manned mission in 2022. The first trial round was scheduled to liftoff around December 2020 and the second in July 2021.

"...there are some disturbances because of COVID-19, but still nothing is confirmed (about the delay). We need to see, still, we have got six months. We are trying to see if we can reach there," a senior ISRO official told PTI.

From the looks of it, ISRO is hinting there might be a slight change in the timetable. "There may be a slight up and down (in the schedule), but that will be known only when we do the complete evaluation..." the official added. For now, it's too early to say anything as the team working on the Gaganyaan mission hasn't confirmed the delay yet.

It should be noted that as part of the first trial, ISRO plans to carry the humanoid Vyommitra. ISRO has designed Vyommitra to simulate most of the human body functions for the first unmanned Gaganyaan mission. As a half humanoid, Vyommitra doesn't have legs but is equipped to carry out all the functions.

ISRO Gaganyaan Mission

The ISRO Gaganyaan mission, with a budget of Rs. 10,000 crores, is expected to liftoff in 2022. This would also mark the 75th anniversary of India's Independence. ISRO is receiving help from various international space agencies including France's National Center for Space Studies (CNES) and Russia's Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center. CNES is also helping India with its space station program.

 

Presently, four Indian Air Force pilots have been handpicked as potential candidates for the Gaganyaan mission, who are undergoing training in Russia. The COVID-19 pandemic had temporarily paused their training for a while. But recent reports have confirmed that the candidates have resumed their astronaut training.

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