In a few weeks from now, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will be taking a significant leap in its ambitious manned mission project to space as scientists at the country’s premier space research agency are all set to test their most recent and powerful launch vehicle, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III with a payload comprising of a crew module that would successfully reenter the earth’s atmosphere and brought back to the space station.
Announcing the experimental launch of GSLV-Mark III, Dr. M Y S Prasad, director of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota said that the launch vehicle would test the agency’s Crew Module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment (CARE) as a platform for testing the re-entry technologies envisaged for crew module.
“The payload will not be put in the geosynchronous orbit, instead it will re-enter the earth’s atmosphere and be recovered with the help of Indian Coast Guard. This will help us successfully demonstrate ISRO’s capability to retrieve crew modules that will be used for future manned missions,” Dr. Prasad said.
The experimental launch is expected to take place between December 15 -20. The crew module that will be sent as a payload has base diameter of 3.1 metres and a height of 2.7 meters, which is almost the size of a small bedroom and is much larger than the Russian manned mission’s crew module.
While crew module which has a lift off mass of 3735 kg is not a full-fledged module, it is very similar in size and will use three sets of parachutes to ensure that it lands safely in the sea. The module will be separated from the launch vehicle at an altitude of 126 km, re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at about 80 km and descend further in ballistic mode. Beyond 80 km, the module will follow uncontrolled re-entry trajectory and impact the sea at about 180 km from Andaman and Nicobar island from where it will be recovered by the Coast Guard. The entire experiment is expected to last a little over 20 minutes by which time the crew module would have successfully be lifted off earth’s atmosphere (325.52 seconds), re-enter and make contact with the ocean, around 600 kilometers away from Sriharikota.
This experiment is expected to help the centre take concrete decisions on the country’s manned mission to space. The successful launch of GSLV Mark 111 will also take the country one step further in its ambition of being self reliant in carrying large satellites weighing around four tonnes successfully.