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India’s first human spaceflight mission ‘Gaganyaan’ delayed due to COVID-19


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said that Gaganyaan, the country’s first human spaceflight mission, is likely to be delayed by a year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Notably, two unmanned missions are supposed to be undertaken before the manned mission

While the first unmanned mission was to be launched this month, the second unmanned mission was to be undertaken in July 2021. The manned mission was scheduled for December next year.

However, ISRO chairman K Sivan said the project will be delayed because of the pandemic. He said that the organisation is trying to launch the first of the two unmanned missions sometime in 2021 or 2022.

GSLV MKIII to be used for Gaganyaan mission

ISRO said last month its heavy-lift launcher, GSLV MKIII is identified for the Gaganyaan mission and the process for the human rating of this rocket is in progress.

The high thrust solid propellant strap-on boosters S200 play an important role in the human-rated GSLV MkIII. In order to human rate the booster, many new design features have been introduced in the hardware.

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The first critical booster segment of the motor case with a diameter of 3.2 metre, 8.5 metre in length and weighing 5.5 tons has been indigenously developed and delivered by L&T to ISRO.

“This is the first step towards the unmanned space mission,” an ISRO official said.

Chandrayaan-3 mission progressing

ISRO chief K Sivan also said the work on the Chandrayaan-3 mission, comprising a lander and a rover, is in progress.

“We have not yet fixed the schedule (for the Chandrayaan-3 launch),” he said.

On the proposed orbiter mission to Venus, “Shukrayaan”, he said ISRO is yet to finalise the payloads, adding, work on the project is going on.

According to ISRO officials, the space agency has short-listed 20 space-based experiment proposals for the ”Shukrayaan” mission to study the planet for more than four years.

They include “collaborative contributions” from Russia, France, Sweden and Germany, sources in the space agency said.

ISRO was eyeing June, 2023 for the country”s first mission to Venus. “But we are currently reviewing this mission timeline due to delays arising from the pandemic situation,” an ISRO official said.


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