ISRO to Create In-House Life Support System for Gaganyaan Mission Following Unsuccessful Attempts to Procure from Other Nations: Somanath


The Gaganyaan project seeks to demonstrate India’s capabilities in human spaceflight, aiming to send a crew into a 400 km orbit and ensure their safe return to Indian sea waters by 2025.

ISRO Chairman S. Somanath announced the agency’s commitment to independently develop the Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) for the upcoming Gaganyaan mission.

“We lack experience in developing an environmental control life support system, as our focus has historically been on designing rockets and satellites. We anticipated obtaining this knowledge from other nations, but unfortunately, after extensive discussions, no country has been willing to share it with us,” Somanath stated at the Manohar Parrikar Vidnyan Mahotsav 2023. The Gaganyaan project aims to showcase India’s capabilities in human spaceflight by sending a crew to a 400 km orbit and safely returning them to Indian sea waters by 2025.

Expressing ISRO’s initial lack of expertise in ECLSS development, Somanath highlighted their historical focus on rocket and satellite design. Despite pursuing collaboration, no country was willing to share the crucial knowledge, leading to the decision to domestically craft the system.

Addressing the Manohar Parrikar Vidnyan Mahotsav 2023 in Dona Paula, Somanath affirmed ISRO’s commitment to indigenous development, leveraging existing knowledge and local industries.

He outlined the challenges confronting the Gaganyaan program, emphasizing the nation’s dedication to skill-building and design enhancement. Somanath stressed the need for heightened skill and confidence for successful human space travel. “When we send humans to space through our Gaganyaan program, I think the amount of skill and confidence that we need to have has to be higher than what we currently have,” he said.

Acknowledging the inherent risk in rocket launches, Somanath underscored the imperative of safeguarding astronauts against failures. ISRO is actively embedding intelligence within rockets, utilizing sensor data, artificial intelligence, and swift decision-making to prevent potential failures.

Highlighting the need for split-second decisions during contingencies, he emphasized the development of technologies to preemptively handle rocket failures by integrating available data and synthesizing solutions.

In pursuit of human space flight capabilities, ISRO remains committed to pioneering new technologies essential for astronaut safety and mission success.

“And if it goes wrong, then there is nobody who is able to correct it or adjust it. Thousands of elements should work without any flaw to make a launch happen. When you have a failure possibility, then you must have protection against it in human space flight. This is the core of human space flight – that we should not put the risk of having the astronaut lost due to the failure in the rocket. So it calls for intelligence in the rocket. This is what we are working on today,” he said.

“Then you have to tell the rocket that you are going to fail now and you better abort even before failure happens. This is a challenge of working on intelligence in the rocket, and we are working on such technologies today, looking at the data which is available in measurements and then making a synthesis of it,” he added.

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