India’s huge Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV- Mark III) will soar into the sky with a crew capsule from Sriharikota in June, signalling that the country is getting ready to send its own astronauts into space. It will be an experimental mission and it will carry no astronauts. This crew capsule will return to the earth with parachutes.

It would be identical to the “final crew capsule in structural and thermo-structural parts,” said S. Ramakrishnan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. “We will take it beyond the atmosphere, make it re-enter the earth’s atmosphere, decelerate it and make a soft touchdown in the Bay of Bengal off the Andaman coast. We will make efforts to recover it.”

The VSSC Director was speaking to reporters here after the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C24) put into orbit India’s second navigation satellite, the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS-1B).

Mr. Ramakrishnan said the Indian Space Research Organisation would evaluate the structural and thermal protection systems to withstand the re-entry load, and thermo-dynamic heating.

This crew capsule will not contain the life-support systems which will be required when actual astronauts fly in the crew capsule. “We will be measuring the environment inside the capsule which will give inputs on the validation of the astronauts’ life-support systems in terms of temperature, vibration and shock which will be experienced inside the crew capsule. This will help us in designing the life-support systems when we actually fly the astronauts into space.”

No astronauts would be aboard the crew capsule in the GSLV-MkIII mission, he stressed.

K. Radhakrishnan, ISRO Chairman, said the June mission would be a passive flight. Its massive cryogenic engine would not fire.

The GSLV-MkIII was getting assembled at Sriharikota, Dr. Radhakrishnan said. Its two strap-on motors had arrived at the spaceport. . The cryogenic stage is getting ready in the ISRO Propulsion Complex at Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

Dr. Radhakrishnan said the PSLV would put into orbit in June the French SPOT-7 satellite and four other satellites from abroad.

More In: Science | Sci-Tech | National | News