Opinion | Mission Gaganyaan: Marking a New Chapter in India’s Space Odyssey – News18

Written By: Group Capt MJ Augustine Vinod VSM (Retd) & Vineet Maliakal
Last Updated: March 10, 2024, 17:19 IST
New Delhi, India
Group Captain P Balakrishnan Nair, Group Captain Ajit Krishnan, Group Captain Angad Pratap and Wing Commander S Shukla are the astronaut-designates that are being trained at the Astronaut Training facility in Bengaluru. (Screengrab: X @ANI)
In the pantheon of India’s space exploration endeavours, Mission Gaganyaan stands out as a bold and ambitious project. It signifies India’s resolve to join the league of nations capable of sending humans to space and safely returning them to Earth. This mission is not merely a testament to India’s growing prowess in space technology but also a beacon of its scientific spirit and quest for cosmic knowledge.
Like Carl Sagan said, we, on Earth, are living amidst a shooting gallery of comets and asteroids. The need for humanity to become a multi-planetary being is not a luxury but a necessity.
Mission Gaganyaan is an intricate tapestry of cutting-edge technology and innovation, designed to propel India into the elite club of countries with human spaceflight capabilities. The mission’s architecture is a triad of crucial components: the Crew Module (CM), the Service Module (SM), and the launch vehicle, GSLV-Mk III.
The Crew Module is the heart of Gaganyaan, designed to house the Vyomnauts, providing them with life support and safety throughout the mission. It is a fortress of human ingenuity, equipped with advanced systems to ensure the crew’s well-being in the void of space. The Service Module, attached to the Crew Module, is the powerhouse of the mission, equipped with propulsion, power, and life support systems. It ensures that the Crew Module has the necessary resources for survival and mission success.
The GSLV-Mk III, India’s most potent rocket, serves as the chariot for Gaganyaan. It is tasked with the monumental responsibility of propelling the spacecraft beyond the clutches of Earth’s gravity into orbit.
The selection of the crew, an elite group of Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots, is a narrative of unparalleled rigour and meticulousness. The process was not merely about selecting India’s finest pilots but about finding individuals who embody resilience, intellect, and the indomitable spirit of exploration.
The chosen Vyomnauts, after a stringent selection process involving medical evaluations, psychological assessments, and rigorous physical tests, are Group Captains Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair, Angad Pratap, Ajit Krishnan, and Wing Commander Shubhanshu Shukla. These individuals represent the zenith of professionalism and dedication, poised to be the torchbearers of India’s manned spaceflight.
The training regimen for these Vyomnauts is as comprehensive as it is intense, designed to prepare them for every conceivable challenge of space travel. From acclimatising to the microgravity environment to handling the unforeseen contingencies of space, the training covers every spectrum of the mission.
They undergo extensive sessions in specialised facilities like the Human Centrifuge and parabolic flights to adapt to the physiological demands of space travel. Simulators and virtual reality setups provide them with a taste of the space environment, honing their skills in spacecraft operation and emergency procedures.
Moreover, their training extends beyond the confines of Earth. Collaborations with international space agencies provide them with exposure to advanced training modules, including extravehicular activity (EVA) and advanced life support systems, ensuring they are well-versed in the nuances of human spaceflight.
Gaganyaan is more than a mission; it’s a statement of India’s burgeoning capabilities in space technology and its unwavering commitment to exploring the final frontier. It’s a precursor to more ambitious endeavours, laying the groundwork for India’s future in space exploration, potentially including lunar and interplanetary missions.
The success of Gaganyaan will bolster India’s position in the global space community, opening avenues for international collaboration and inspiring a new generation of scientists, engineers, and Vyomnauts. It’s a mission that carries the dreams and aspirations of a billion Indians, marking a new chapter in India’s space odyssey.
As Mission Gaganyaan progresses towards its launch, it carries with it the collective hopes and ambitions of a nation poised to make its mark in the cosmos. The mission is a testament to India’s relentless pursuit of excellence and its unwavering spirit of exploration. With the eyes of a nation and the world watching, Gaganyaan is not just a journey to space; it’s a journey into the future, heralding a new era for India in the vast, uncharted expanse of the universe.
Group Capt MJ Augustine Vinod VSM (retd) tweets at @mjavinod; Vineet Maliakal is COO, AutoMicroUAS. Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect News18’s views.


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