ISRO’s first manned-mission Gaganyaan: Boeing responds to EoI for critical elements

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Updated: February 10, 2021 2:40 PM

India is planning to launch astronauts soon from here onboard a modified GSLV MK III launch vehicle. The launch vehicle shall place the Orbital module into space, and once positioned as per required orientation, the service part of the module shall be separated from the crew module.

ISRO Gaganyaan MissonISRO & NASA are already working together in various fields of Space and these include Human Space Flight, Earth observation, Mars and planetary exploration, Helio-Physics, and Commercial Space cooperation. (Representational image: ISRO)

India is planning to launch astronauts soon from here onboard a modified GSLV MK III launch vehicle. The launch vehicle shall place the Orbital module into space, and once positioned as per required orientation, the service part of the module shall be separated from the crew module.

How long will be the mission?

It will be a week long mission and at the end of flight completion, the crew module shall land back into ocean touch down with the assistance of the parachutes. The touch down is planned within Indian waters closer to a coastal region for ease of recovery.

In every space mission, the crew safety is paramount and ISRO’s rigorous safety standards for human spaceflight have been formulated. The mission’s operational role to put the space capsule in space is already a challenge which Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has adequate past experience. But the robust safety standards for crew safety requires mature technology, which is not readily available within India since such technologies evolve with actual space flight experiences. Accordingly, ISRO has called out to the global suppliers to support in the design development and delivery of some of the critical items for the human spaceflight under the mission Gaganyaan.

Boeing India

The US based aerospace giant has already bagged huge chunks of Indian Air Force (IAF) deals. It has also bagged orders from the Indian Navy for the surveillance aircraft. Till date the company has delivered C-17 Globemaster III airlifters to the IAF; P-8I maritime surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft to the Indian Navy; AH-64E Apache helicopters & CH-47F (I) Chinook helicopters for the IAF.

Besides its huge presence in the Indian Armed forces, the US based company is now looking towards the Space Sector. It has recently responded to Expression of Interest (EoI) issued by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for certain critical requirements for the Human Space Flight Project `Gaganyaan’.

What has Boeing responded to?

In an exclusive interaction with Financial Express Online, Torbjorn Sjogren, VP, International Government & Defence, Boeing Global Services, said, “ISRO has sought information and involvement of the industry in some projects related to Human Space Flight Project. Boeing has responded to an EOI (Expression of Interest) on design and manufacture of a space capsule Simulator and is in dialogue on two other subjects – inner lining of space capsule and crew seat.”

Has any contract between ISRO & Boeing been inked?

No.

According to Mr Torbjorn Sjogren, “While Boeing is excited to be engaged with ISRO on this prestigious space project, no contract has yet been signed.”

SpaceX FalconXCommercial crew successful launch: A role model for ISRO’s future

Indo-US Space Cooperation

As reported earlier, last year, during the bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the former US President Donald Trump, Space Cooperation was one of the areas where both leaders looked for deeper cooperation. In a joint statement released then, it was decided that ISRO and NASA are planning to launch next year (2022) a joint mission with the world’s first dual-frequency Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite.

ISRO & NASA are already working together in various fields of Space and these include Human Space Flight, Earth observation, Mars and planetary exploration, Helio-Physics, and Commercial Space cooperation.

India-US Space Cooperation: ISRO-NASA to join hand in Robots development

Know more about Space Capsule Simulator, Inner Lining of Space Capsule and Crew Seat

Milind Kulshreshtha, C4I expert & Strategic Analyst talks in detail about these with Financial Express Online.

Space Capsule Simulator

“The Gaganyaan crew and Mission Control team require extensive training to prepare for the critical human spaceflight later. The Crew Training Simulator role is to familiarize the crew with panel buttons and other man-machine interfaces within the crew module. Most importantly the scenarios pertaining to contingencies (like abnormal system failures etc.) and alerts or alarms are also created for crew to take emergency actions and familiarize them with various safety drills,” says the C4I expert.

According to him, “For any Space flight mission, the Space Crew Training simulator is one of the most critical elements for the complete mission, as it is not only for training of the astronauts but also to check the sequence of operations, including that by support personnel. Simulator caters for generation of abnormal behaviour of systems like malfunction, under-performances and mission abort like situations so that crew can take a timely and decisive action in an actual scenario. Many of these require individual actions and Team actions, and these too shall be practiced in the simulator under the guidance of the Instructor, whose panel shall run the Simulator Software module.”

“The Instructor shall have the control to simulate the practice and test scenarios to train and test the crew members. This Instructor panel is positioned 10-20m away from the Crew Stations so as to oversee the complete exercise up close while giving the space for astronauts to operate independently. Most important criterion for any such simulator is the ability to capture the System Requirements accurately and follow an IEEE Standard on System Engineering approach as the Simulator shall be highly software intensive. Making a simulator of this nature is not an easy task.”

Inner Lining

“The inner lining of the Capsule is supposed to endure the cold temperatures of the space and high temperatures of the reentry, while keeping the astronauts in a human comfortable protected environment. Another essential feature of the inner lining is to protect the humans in space from the harmful radiations. The inner lining is a complicated array of materials which is designed for keeping the astronauts safe throughout the flight duration,” Milind Kulshreshtha, explains.

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Crew Seat – what is so unique about it?

“A crew seat provides full body support and is specific for each crew on an individual basis. The seats are usually made as a composite shell and are reconfigurable so as to be reusable for subsequent flights too. The seats are tailor made as per the specific astronaut’s height and weight so as to provide total body support in more complex circumstances like launch phase and landing. During the launch and reentry phases, the forces on a crew member is the largest and these forces require to be well distributed so as to avoid an injury to the human body,” Milind Kulshreshtha, C4I expert & Strategic Analyst explains.

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