- Human-rating says the system is capable of safely transporting humans
- At least 50% of the Rs 10,000 crore will go into human-rating
- The escape system will boast of a recently included geometry, while work on parachute enlargement and new architecture will be ready soon.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), which got a shot in its arm with the approval of Rs 10,000-crore budget for the human space mission on Friday, has a long way before executing the mission, with crucial human-rating of systems, including the rocket, yet to be achieved.
Human-rating says the system is capable of safely transporting humans. It also means it has adequate technology that efficiently protects crew in the event of any failure.
Chairman Sivan K told : “There is a lot of work ahead of us. We could not have gone ahead without money being approved as the mission needs a lot of new testing and development that is cost sensitive.”
At least 50% of the Rs 10,000 crore will go into human-rating, while a new launch pad that can accommodate entry of astronauts will cost a fair bit.
“We have to build three sets of rockets, crew and service module. Although I don’t have the exact break-up of figures at this moment, building three GSLV-MK III launch vehicles and the other modules and conducting various human-rating tests will definitely use about 50% of the budget,” Sivan said.
Each set will be used for three missions — two unmanned missions planned for December 2020 and June-July 2021, and the actual mission by December 2021 or early 2022.
S Somnath, director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), had in a recent presentation elaborated on some pending work.
“We’ve had several meetings on the roadmap for human-rating the launch vehicle. Since GSLV has been in active development since 2002-04, we had the vision that this could one day be used for the human mission,” he said.
Explaining that all systems for a space launch are designed with redundancies, he said a human-rated mission will need a much higher degree of redundancy. “The reliability targeted for human-rated launch vehicle is 0.99, which means statistically only 1 out of 100 can be unreliable. For the crew escape system, which is very crucial, we’re targeting greater than 0.998, that’s almost 100 reliability,” Somnath said.
The escape system will boast of a recently included geometry, while work on parachute enlargement — as models tested so far have been scaled down version and the actual system will be bigger—and new architecture will be ready soon. “Rockets are autonomous after launch so we cannot tolerate any failure,” Somnath said.
The crew escape system is very crucial, with key tests, including the pad abort test done on July 5 this year.
“Even if one system fails, we’ll bring the crew back. The most important thing is failure detection and onboard intelligence that tells the system to abort. For this, new algorithms to go into the system will be ready soon. An indigenous computer and microprocessor will be used. Control systems, avionics and sensors are ready,” Somnath said.
Sivan said astronaut selection and training, which will include establishment of new facilities, will also take up a considerable amount of the budget. “Some things need to be done, and this aspect of the project will use up about 10% of the budget,” Sivan said.
Isro is currently creating a framework for astronaut selection. The Institute of Aerospace Medicine has some systems in place for astronaut selection and training and India is looking at a pool of 30 astronauts from which the final crew will be selected.