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Saturday, 29 November 2014

To put man in space, Isro to test crew module in December................

SRIHARIKOTA: Scientists at the SatishDhawanSpace Centre in Sriharikota are busy integrating a brown bucket-like structure with a black lid mounted on a pedestal. Some day soon, they believe, an improved version of this would carry human beings to space. 

Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is taking baby steps towards sending man to space, with an experimental flight of a GSLV-Mark III all set to carry this 'crew module' as the payload in the second week of December. While the manned mission is at least 10 years away, a full-fledged flight of GSLV-MIII is still a couple of years away. The biggest rocket ever to be made by Isro, it can carry payloads up to four tones—a necessity in the coming days of heavy communication satellites. 

For this, scientists are testing the indigenously developed cryogenic engine at Isro's Mahendragiri facility in Tirunelveli district. In the experimental flight called the LVM3-X/CARE mission, the cryogenic engine C25 will not be used. 

"We will be having a morning launch for the experimental test flight on any day between December 15 and 20. The date will be finalized in another week," said SHAR director M Y S Prasad. The unmanned module to be used in Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) is to test the ability of the module to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere with thermal resistance, parachute deployment in cluster formation, aero braking system and apex cover separation procedures.

Isro's crew module or CARE, which would be launched by LVM 3 in an experimental mission from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota between December15 and 20. (PTI Photo) 

The crew module will be separated from the GSLV rocket at an altitude of 126km and will re-enter the atmosphere at about 80km. It will 'soft-crash' into the Bay of Bengal about 600km from Port Blair, and be retrieved by the Indian Coast Guard tracking its beacon signal. This will be the first time the module weighing more than 3,000kg will be tested for its atmospheric reentry and parachute deployment patterns from such high altitudes. Isro's first space recovery experiment (SRE-1) module launched by a PSLV in January 2007 weighed just 555kg, and it was not a crew module. It re-entered atmosphere and was successfully collected from the Bay of Bengal. 

"We will not be injecting any object into the orbit during this test flight. The crew module costs around Rs 15 crore and Rs 140 crore was spent on the GSLV Mark III components to be used for the test flight," said project director S Somanath. 

CARE mission director Unnikrishnan Nair said so far the crew module has been tested by airdropping it from IAF choppers and the test flight will provide them a chance to actually map its trajectory, thermo resistance capacity of the exterior. The module will be packed with three separate sets of parachutes to be deployed in pairs, including a 31-metre diameter parachute which will be the biggest made in the country. Experts pointed out that manned missions in the future will involve similar crew modules, but with special chambers for life support.