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Gaganyaan: More than 2 uncrewed missions on cards | India News

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), whose initial plan was to launch two uncrewed missions before the human spaceflight carries astronauts to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) as part of the Gaganyaan programme, may carry out more uncrewed launches.
The national-level Gaganyaan Advisory Council (GAC) will take a final call on how many uncrewed missions Isro may need to carry out after it evaluates data from the first two missions. As reported by TOI last week, the first uncrewed mission is now unlikely before June 2022, and Isro won’t be sending the life support systems for tests.
Isro chairman K Sivan told TOI: “…We may need to carry out more than two uncrewed missions. The GAC has advised that the first uncrewed mission should be carried out as soon as possible. Based on how the systems perform during the first and the second uncrewed missions and evaluation of the data, the GAC will decide if we need more missions before the astronauts are sent.”
7-14 Orbits Only?
Also, no final decision on how long the astronauts would eventually spend in LEO as part of the first mission has been taken yet. A source from the Gaganyaan team said that they might only do “seven orbits”, or at best, “fourteen”.
Any satellite in LEO can do around 14 orbits in a day — which means the Indian astronauts may just spend one day in space. “The preparations (development of systems) are to keep astronauts in space for a week. However, we may be a bit more cautious on the first mission. That said, no decision has been taken yet on how long they will spend there,” Sivan said.
Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal Both Options
Further, Isro is looking at both the west and east coast options for the landing of the orbital module upon its return. Sources said that plans are being drawn up for landing on both seas but the landing could eventually happen in the Bay of Bengal.
“The Arabian sea is less rough compared to the Bay of Bengal, but the latter has better infrastructure for recovery of the module given that the landing would take place closer to Port Blair. At this juncture, we’re keeping both options open,” Sivan said.
40 Ground Stations & 2 Satellites
Also, Isro will be using at least 40 ground stations — Indian and those belonging to other countries — to track astronauts when they travel around Earth aside from launching two relay satellites.
“Generally we only need a handful of stations to track our satellites. But for the human mission the entire orbit needs to be tracked, so we have already tied up with 40 stations around the world,” Sivan said.
He added that these stations would still cover only 40% of the module’s orbit around Earth and the remaining 60% will be covered by the two relay satellites Isro will launch. “The first of these satellites will be ready by March-April next year and the second one by the time we launch the second uncrewed mission,” Sivan said.

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Dawn Punjab
Author: Dawn Punjab

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