Will have at least one unmanned mission to orbit this year ahead of Gaganyaan: Isro head Somanath

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will have at least one unmanned mission to orbit this year in the run-up to the Gaganyaan launch in 2025, Isro chairman S Somanath said in Bengaluru on Monday. The Gaganyaan project aims to demonstrate human spaceflight capability by launching a three-member crew to a low earth orbit of 400 km for three days, and bring them back safely, with a planned splashdown in Indian Ocean waters.

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Somanath was talking on the sidelines of the inauguration of space-tech startup Pixxel’s new manufacturing facility, MegaPixxel.

“We will have at least one unmanned mission to orbit. Then we will have at least two test flights to demonstrate abort scenarios. We also have to do a few helicopter drop tests which demonstrate our parachutes and failure modes etc,” Somanath said. “We also have to do a pad abort test which simulates a launch pad failure and development of many systems including environmental control, and life support system,” he added. “This is the overall scope of the work for Gaganyaan this year.”


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The space agency’s chairman also spoke about the supernova remnant that was recently captured by India’s first x-ray polarimetry mission XPoSat.

“It is a supernova remnant that has been well captured. We collaborated with other observations and found the data to be extremely useful. It will continue to look at 500 more such sources,” Somanath said.

Isro on January 1 had placed an X-ray Polarimeter Satellite (XPoSat) in orbit 650 km from Earth, in a successful start to a mission to study astronomical x-ray sources and black holes.


The Chandrayaan-4 mission, which aims to bring back samples from the Moon, will require docking of systems, for which Isro is planning the Space Docking Experiment (SPADEX), Somanath said.

This would involve two satellites — Chaser and Target – that would be launched as co-passengers or auxiliary payloads, he added without providing further details. Isro aims to launch SPADEX by the end of 2024.