India Moves Forward with Plans to Privatize Production of Launch Vehicles

GSLV Mark III inaugural flight test. (Credit: ISRO)

India is moving forward with transferring production of its government-built launch vehicles to private companies, Outlook India reports.

The Department of Space (DoS) plans to realise entirely-built rockets — GSLV-Mk III and SSLV — from Indian industry partners, in addition to PSLV, according to a top official of its commercial arm NSIL.

NSIL (NewSpace India Limited) has received three bids — HAL-L&T, BEL-Adani-BEML, and BHEL, in response to the request for proposal (RFP) floated by it for end-to-end production of PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle).

“We are now going through the techno-commercial evaluation (in respect of the three bids)”, NSIL Chairman and Managing Director, D Radhakrishnan, told PTI here.

He said the process will be completed within the next two months with one of the bidders bagging the contract. The selected bidder will be responsible for realisation of five numbers of PSLV.

GSLV-Mk III is India’s most powerful satellite booster. It will be used to launch ISRO’s Gaganyaan crewed spacecraft. SSLV is the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, whose maiden flight has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Successful Hot Test of Gaganyaan Service Module Propulsion System – System Demonstration Model (SDM)

Gaganyaan Service module propulsion system demonstration module. (Credit: ISRO)

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — On August 28, 2021, ISRO successfully conducted the first hot test of the System Demonstration Model (SDM) of the Gaganyaan Service Module Propulsion System for a duration of 450 seconds at the test facility of ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

The system performance met the test objectives and there was a close match with the pre-test predictions. Further, a series of hot tests are planned to simulate various mission conditions as well as off-nominal conditions.

The Service Module is part of the Gaganyaan Orbital module and is located below the crew module and remains connected to it until re-entry. The Service Module (SM) Propulsion System consists of a unified bipropellant system consisting of 5 nos. of 440 N thrust engines and 16 nos. of 100 N Reaction Control system (RCS) thrusters with MON-3 and MMH as Oxidizer and Fuel respectively.

The System Demonstration Model (SDM), consisting of 5 nos. of 440 N engines and 8 nos. of 100 N thrusters, was realized to qualify the propulsion system performance in ground. A new test facility is established at IPRC, Mahendragiri for testing the SDM.

Third Successful Vikas Engine Long Duration Hot Test for ISRO’s Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Program

Vikas engine hot fire (Credit: ISRO)

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — On July 14, 2021, ISRO has successfully conducted the third long duration hot test of the liquid propellant Vikas engine for the core L110 liquid stage of the human rated GSLV Mk III vehicle, as part of the engine qualification requirements for the Gaganyaan Programme.

The engine was fired for a duration of 240 seconds at the engine test facility of ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu. The performance of the engine met the test objectives and the engine parameters were closely matching with the predictions during the entire duration of the test.

Launch 2020: India’s Flight Rate Declined Due to COVID-19, but Nation Moved Forward with Commercialization

PSLV-C50 lifts off with the CMS-01 satellite. (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s growing space program managed only two domestic launches last year as it was forced to delay the Gaganyaan human spaceflight program and several other high profile projects.

However, India was able to move forward last year on a sweeping commercialization of its state-controlled space industry designed to make the country internationally competitive.

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CNES to Provide Training, Equipment for India’s Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Program

Capsule descending under parachute (Credit: ISRO)

BANGALORE, India (CNES PR) — On Thursday April 15, 2020, as part of the trip to India of Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, CNES and ISRO, the Indian space agency, announced in Bangalore, at the human spaceflight center, a new space cooperation agreement. France will participate in the Indian Gaganyaan manned space flight program.

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ISRO Chairman K Sivan Lays Out 10 Year Plan for Indian Space Program

Dr. K Sivan (Credit: ISRO)

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — In the future, when we look back upon the year 2020, we will be reminded of the trials and tribulations caused in our official as well as personal lives, owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Notwithstanding this situation, huge quantity of work progressed in virtual mode in design and development of systems.

Gaganyaan & Chandrayaan-3 major technical issues were addressed. The concept of virtual LCC and SCC got evolved and implemented. In fact, this mode of work appears to be more efficient and can be the new normal. Even where field work was involved, the activities were completed with minimum travel and social distancing.

And thanks to the dedicated and hardworking personnel, who carried on the torch of progress and made sure that we complete two hugely successful launches by the end of the year. These achievements, even during hard times, in the face of financial & human resource constraints, is truly commendable and speaks volumes about the resourcefulness of team ISRO.

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ISRO Chairman Given 1-Year Extension of Term

Dr. K Sivan (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO Chairman K Sivan has been given an one-year extension to his term, postponing his planned Jan. 14, 2021 retirement date.

Sivan, 63, was appointed ISRO chairman in January 2018. He joined ISRO in 1982 and previously served as director of the space agency’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre.

In an interview with the Times of India, Sivan said he would do his best to move the Gaganyaan human spaceflight program toward a crew launch by the August 2022 deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Other priorities include continuing the ongoing commercialization reforms of the Indian space industry and fast tracking the launch of the Chandrayaan-3 lunar landing mission.

Governments Maintain Firm Financial Commitment to Space Amid Global Economic Turbulence

Paris, Washington D.C., Montreal, Yokohama (Euroconsult PR) – Amid a tumultuous year for the global economy, government space program budgets maintained their growth trajectories for a fifth consecutive year. Following a period of strong budget tensions between 2010 and 2015, government space sector spending reached its highest recorded point in 2020 according to Euroconsult’s latest “Government Space Programs: Benchmarks, Profiles & Forecasts to 2029” flagship research. With Covid-19 having no noticeable impact on government space budgets, the pandemic having occurred with budgets largely already decided, it remains however to be seen, whether governments can sustain these historic budget levels in the future.  

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India’s Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Program Delayed by 1 Year Due to Covid-19

Capsule descending under parachute (Credit: ISRO)

PTI reports that India’s human space flight program is likely to be delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As per the mandate of Gaganyaan, two uncrewed missions would be undertaken prior to the manned mission. Accordingly, the unmanned missions were slated for launch in December 2020 and July 2021, and the first manned mission was scheduled in December 2021.

“That will be delayed because of COVID,” ISRO Chairman, Kailasavadivoo Sivan, told PTI. “We are targeting for sometime next year-end or the subsequent year,” he said on the expected time-line for the first of the two proposed uncrewed missions.

The Gaganyaan project has the objective of demonstrating human space flight capability to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) with three crew members in orbit and safely recovering them after the mission.

COVID-19 has significantly slowed India’s space program this year. ISRO typically launches about six times annually. The space agency launched for the first time and only time this year on Nov. 7. ISRO’s second and possibly final launch of 2020 is scheduled for Nov. 14.

Indian Pilots Continue Spaceflight Training at Gagarin Center in Russia

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The Indian cosmonauts are undergoing training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) following the courses of the general space training program and of the systems of the Soyuz MS crewed spacecraft. The completion of their training at GCTC is scheduled for the first quarter of 2021.

The contract for the Indian candidates’ training for a spaceflight was signed between Gavkosmos and the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation on June 27, 2019.  On February 10, 2020, GCTC started training of the four Indian cosmonauts.

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India Selects 4 Pilots for First Gaganyaan Space Mission

Capsule descending under parachute (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO says it has selected four pilots from the Indian Air Force to begin training in Russia later this month for the first Gaganyaan orbital mission. The Hindu reports that Chairman K. Sivan made the announcement on New Year’s Day.

The initial tests were conducted in the IAF’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bengaluru, and Russia. The four will leave in the third week of January to be trained at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Centre in Moscow, as per an agreement signed between the space agencies of the two countries last year.

Gaganyaan, announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2018, is the ₹10,000-crore Indian human space flight scheduled for 2022. It is designed to have 3-7 crew members spend 3-7 days in space in a 400-km orbit.

Dr. Sivan said Gaganyaan activities were on track. However it was not known yet how many astronauts would finally travel to space.

The first of the two pre-Gaganyaan flights with a humanoid will be launched this year-end along with some of the six shortlisted micro-gravity experiments, Dr. Sivan said. 

India Plans First Human Spaceflight for December 2021

Escape tower fires (Credit: ISRO)

NEW DELHI (Department of Space PR) — The Human Space Mission: Gaganyaan is targeted for December 2021. The Gaganyaan Programme has been approved by the Government of India. The design and configuration of major subsystem are finalized. The procurement and system/ subsystem realisation for tests and flight has commenced.

The crew selection and training process for Gaganyaan mission is progressing well including the training in Russia under Gaganyaan Mission.

GSLV Mk III launcher which is ISRO’s heavy lift launcher is identified for Gaganyaan mission. It has requisite payload carrying capacity for Orbital module in desired elliptical orbit. Process for human rating of GSLV Mk-III is progressing well.

ISRO has wide experience in technological areas with respect to Launch vehicle, spacecraft management, ground infrastructure etc. ISRO has taken steps for human rating of existing systems to ensure crew safety.

In certain areas where ISRO lacks experience such as Human centric systems, crew training, crew recovery etc., ISRO is planning to collaborate with national and international agencies. MoUs in this regard have already been signed with DRDO labs, Indian Air Force and Russian space agency.

This information was provided by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

Glavkosmos to Assist India with Heating, Life Support Systems for Gaganyaan Spacecraft

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Glavkosmos JSC, part of Roscosmos State Space Corporation, and Human Space Flight Centre of Indian Space Research Organization (HSFC of ISRO) on Friday signed a contract to review a project to assess the possibility of using Russian flight equipment in life support systems and providing thermal regime for the manned spacecraft Gaganyaan.

Dmitry Loskutov, Director General of Glavkosmos, and Dr. Unnikrishnan Nair, Head of the HSFC, signed the contract. The signing ceremony was held in the presence of Deputy Director General for international cooperation of Roscosmos State Space Corporation Sergey Savelyev.

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It’s Dead, Jim! ISRO Gives Up on Lunar Lander, Rover

Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Well, it’s not the famous winter of Game of Thrones, but the 14-day lunar night has arrived where India’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover made what IRSO officials have called a “hard landing” two weeks ago with no communication between them and ground controllers.

Since neither vehicle was designed to survive the frigid temperatures of the lunar night, the Indian space agency has called it a day in a rather bare bones announcement.

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ISRO, Glavkosmos Sign Agreement for Training Indian Astronauts

MOSCOW (Glavkosmos PR) — On June 27, 2019, First deputy Director General of Glavkosmos (part of Roscosmos State Corporation) Natalia Lokteva and Director of Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)Dr. S.Unnikrishnan Nair signed a contract for selection support, medical examination and space training of Indian astronauts.

Glavkosmos will render to HSFC services on consulting support of selection of candidates for the Indian astronauts, providing medical examination of the candidates for access to space flight related training program and providing space flight related training for the Indian astronauts selected on the basis of the medical examination.

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