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ISRO to launch Gaganyaan test, Science missions and two data relay satellites in 2022-23

Updated: Apr 24, 2022

Two Important missions involving the Gaganyaan test vehicle are most likely to happen in August and December. The two data relay satellites, critical for tracking the crew module in space and real-time communication, are scheduled for next year.

April 10, 2022; Indian Space Research Organization - ISRO is working towards carrying out at least two test missions to establish crew abort and escape systems using the specially designed test vehicle (rocket) this year, while the first uncrewed mission is expected in 2023. ISRO chairman S Somanath told NewsX: “We are looking to schedule the first abort mission on the new vehicle in August and the second one in December. The relay satellites have not been scheduled for this year.”

The agency's target is to demonstrate the first or abort conditions in August, wherein, it will intentionally simulate and cause an anomaly and allow the crew module to eject and egress, do the tumbling maneuvers, deploy parachutes, and land in a designated spot on the sea before being recovered. Aside from this — which is only one type of abort test — there are different events such as maximum dynamic pressure, maximum acceleration condition, some transient condition etc., in which abort will become critical in flight. In all, ISRO has realized four such special test vehicles, two missions of which will happen this year.

GSLV MK-III / Gaganyaan by S.I and HDE

IDRSS Update

The Work on the 2,275-kg data relay satellites — Indian Data Relay Satellite System (IDRSS) — is ongoing. On April 4, ISRO received the satellite structure built by defense PSU HAL, but a lot of work is still pending on the satellites.

Data Relay Satellite System (DRSS) presents a simple solution by seamlessly providing a stable link between Remote Sensing Satellites

constellation in-orbit and its users on the ground. A data relay satellite placed either in Geo-synchronous orbit or Molniya orbit serves as communication/data link to Low Earth

Orbit (LEO) manned/ unmanned missions. It provides a near continuous visibility of LEO spacecraft. Conventional ground stations can have visibility of LEO missions in discontinuous fragments (for a maximum of ∼20 minutes) with

four to five orbital visibilities over a day. Even with about 40 stations located geographically over different sites on the globe, only about two third coverage of the orbit can be achieved. Since most of the earths surface is covered by water, a majority of ground stations have to be located on ships, resulting in exorbitant costs of the ground network.

OceanSat, RLV and Science Missions

OceanSat, Commercial Sat & RLV Further, the PSLV mission scheduled to launch earth observation satellite-6 (EOS-6) or Oceansat-3 will now only happen in August-September. “This is a more complex satellite and unlike the earlier ones in the family where the optics (sensors) were imported, this will have indigenous ones. There are several challenges that are being addressed,” Somanath said. However, the space agency is looking at another PSLV mission in May involving a commercial satellite, which will be done through Space PSU NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).

RLV; On the proposed landing experiment (LEX) of the reusable launch vehicle technology demonstrator (RLV-TD), Somnath said: “If the wind conditions are favorable, we should be able to do it this month. This work is progressing.” Sources in VSSC said that the vehicle has returned from Challakere (Science City near Bengaluru) where it underwent some captive tests last month."

Chandrayaan-3 & Aditya; the solar/Heliophysics observation mission "Aditya-L1" is expected to make the September-October window, missing, which would push the mission to the next year. But the team is confident of making the window, the headquarters is yet to take a final call on the launch dates.

However, Chandrayaan-3 is expected to be pushed to 2023, even as consistent testing of various systems continues to happen. “The list of tests is long, and we do not want to compromise on anything. It is unlikely that we launch Chandrayaan-3 this year given that we have specific windows to do it,” Somanath said.

SSLV; The much-awaited first developmental flight of SSLV is scheduled for May, ISRO will conduct two more this year. “After one in May, we’re looking to schedule one in August and one in December. All three are developmental flights,” Somanath said.

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