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Crew module infographic zoomed.jpg
Preliminary configuration of Gaganyaan orbital vehicle depicting integrated Crew and Service Modules, displayed at Bangalore Space Expo 2018 (cropped)
ManufacturerDefence Research and Development Organisation
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
Indian Space Research Organisation
Country of originIndia
ApplicationsCrewed orbital vehicle
Spacecraft typeCrewed
Launch mass8,200 kg (18,100 lb) (includes service module) [1]
Dry mass3,735 kg (8,234 lb) [2]
Crew capacity3 [3]
DimensionsDiameter: 3.5 m (11 ft) [4]
Height: 3.58 m (11.7 ft) [4]
Volume8 m3 (280 cu ft)[5]
PowerPhotovoltaic array
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Design life7 days
StatusIn development
Maiden launchQ1 2023 (uncrewed)[6]
2024 (crewed)[7]

Gaganyaan (Sanskrit IAST: gagan-yāna, transl. "Space Craft") is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft intended to be the formative spacecraft of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme. The spacecraft is being designed to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be equipped with rendezvous and docking capability. In its maiden crewed mission, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)'s largely autonomous 5.3 metric tonnes capsule will orbit the Earth at 400 km altitude for up to seven days with a two or three-person crew on board. The first crewed mission was originally planned to be launched on ISRO's LVM 3 in December 2021,[8][9] but this has since been delayed to no earlier than 2024.[7]

This Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) manufactured crew module had its first un-crewed experimental flight on 18 December 2014.[10] As of May 2019, design of the crew module has been completed.[11] Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will provide support for critical human-centric systems and technologies like space grade food, crew healthcare, radiation measurement and protection, parachutes for the safe recovery of the crew module and fire suppression system.[12]

On 11 June 2020, it was announced that while the first uncrewed Gaganyaan launch has been delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic in India,[13] overall timeline for crewed launches is expected to remain unaffected.[14] ISRO chairman S. Somanath, announced on 30 June 2022 that the first crewed mission will not happen until at least 2024 because of safety concerns.[7]


Preliminary studies and technological development of Gaganyaan started in 2006 under the generic name "Orbital Vehicle". The plan was to design a simple capsule with an endurance of about a week in space, a capacity of two astronauts, and a splashdown landing after re-entry. The project was commissioned in 2007 with expected completion by 2024 with a budget of around ₹10,000 crore.[15] The design was finalized by March 2008 and was submitted to the Government of India for funding. The government funding for the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme was sanctioned in February 2009,[16] but it fell short due to limited developmental funding.[16] Initially, the first uncrewed flight of the orbital vehicle was proposed to be in 2013,[17] then it was revised to 2016.[18] However, in April 2012 it was reported that funding problems placed the future of the project in serious doubt;[19] and in August 2013 it was announced that all crewed spaceflight efforts by India had been designated as being "off ISRO's priority list".[20] By early 2014 the project was reconsidered and was one of the main beneficiaries of a substantial budget increase announced in February 2014.[21] ISRO is developing the Gaganyaan orbital vehicle on the tests performed with their scaled 550 kg Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE), which was launched and recovered in January 2007.[22][23]

The latest push for the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme took place in 2017,[24] and it was accepted and formally announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his 2018 Independence day address to the nation.[25] The current design calls for a crew of three.[3] ISRO will perform four biological and two physical science experiments related to micro-gravity during the Gaganyaan mission.[26] ISRO is planning to replace hydrazine for green propellant in Gaganyaan mission for which Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) is already working on a monopropellant blended formulation consisting of hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN), ammonium nitrate, methanol and water.[27][28]

As of October 2021, ISRO selected five science experiments that will be conducted on Gaganyaan. The payloads will be developed by Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad (UASD), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), IIT Patna, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) and Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR). Out of the five, two are biological experiments which will be conducted by IIST, UASD and TIFR that will include kidney stone formation and Sirtuin 1 gene marker effects in Drosophila melanogaster. IIT Patna will run experiments on a heat sink that can handle very high heat flux, IICT will study crystallization phenomenon and JNCASR will examine fluid mixing characteristics.[29]

Funding and infrastructure

A crewed spacecraft would require about 12,400 crore (US$1.77 billion) over a period of seven years, including the 5,000 crore (US$0.7 billion) for the initial work of the crewed spacecraft during the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007–2012) out of which the Government released 50 crore (US$7 million) in 2007–2008.[30][31] In December 2018, the government approved further 10,000 crore (US$1.5 billion) for a 7-days crewed flight of 3 astronauts to take place by 2021.[8]

Madhavan Chandradathan, director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), stated that ISRO would need to set up an astronaut training facility in Bangalore. Newly established Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) will coordinate the IHSF efforts.[32] Existing launch facilities will be upgraded for launches under Indian Human Spaceflight project [33][34] with extra facilities needed for launch escape systems.[31] Russia is likely to provide astronaut training.[35] In spring 2009, the full-scale mock-up of crew capsule of Gaganyaan was built and delivered to Satish Dhawan Space Centre for training of astronauts.[36]

India has already successfully developed and tested several building blocks, including re-entry space capsule, pad abort test, safe crew ejection mechanism in case of rocket failure, flight suit developed by Defence Bioengineering and Electromedical Laboratory (DEBEL) and the powerful GSLV-MkIII launch vehicle.[37] Having met all required technological keystones, the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme was accepted and formally announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 August 2018.[38] Gaganyaan will be the first crewed spacecraft under this programme.[39]

ISRO's Human Space Flight Centre and Glavcosmos, which is a subsidiary of the Russian state corporation Roscosmos, signed an agreement on 1 July 2019 for cooperation in the selection, support, medical examination and space training of Indian astronauts.[40] An ISRO Technical Liaison Unit (ITLU) has been approved to be set up in Moscow for cordination.[41][42] Glavkosmos has also contracted NPP Zvezda for manufacturing customized IVA flight-suits for Indian astronauts.[43][44][45] ISRO is planning to develop a ground station for Gaganyaan mission at Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and after a brief discussion with Australian Space Agency, a temporary ground station for the mission has been set up by ISRO in Cocos (Keeling) Islands, as of 2021.[27]


Crew Module

Gaganyaan crew module is a fully autonomous 5.3 t (12,000 lb) spacecraft designed to carry a 3-member crew to orbit and safely return to the Earth after a mission duration of up to seven days.[1] The crew module is equipped with two parachutes for redundancy, while one parachute is good enough for safe splashdown. The parachutes would reduce the speed of the crew module from over 216 m/s (710 ft/s) to under 11 m/s (36 ft/s) at splashdown.[46]

The space capsule will have life support and environmental control systems. It will be equipped with emergency mission abort and a Crew Escape System (CES) that can be activated during the first stage or second rocket stage burn.[47] The nose of the original version of the orbital vehicle was free for a docking mechanism, but primary entry was evidently through a side hatch secured by explosive bolts.[48]

Service Module

Its 2.9 t (6,400 lb)[1] service module is powered by liquid propellant engines. The crew module is mated to the service module, and together they constitute 8.2 t (18,000 lb) orbital module.[1]

The Service Module Propulsion System (SMPS) will help in orbit raising maneuver of Gaganyaan to reach 400 km in low earth orbit (LEO) and remain connected during deorbit burn until atmospheric reentry. It will use an unified bipropellant system consisting of MON-3 and Monomethylhydrazine as oxidizer and fuel, having five main engines derived from ISRO's liquid apogee motor with 440 N (99 lbf) thrust and sixteen 100 N reaction control system (RCS) thrusters.

Upon reentry, Service Module will detach itself from the spacecraft. The propulsion system will use a unified bipropellant system consisting of MON-3 and Monomethylhydrazine as oxidizer and fuel. It will have five main engines derived from ISRO's liquid apogee motor with 440 N (99 lbf) thrust and sixteen 100 N reaction control system (RCS) thrusters.


Following two non-crewed orbital flight demonstrations of the spacecraft, a crewed Gaganyaan is slated to be launched on the GSLV Mk III launcher no earlier than mid-2023.[49][50] Though the spacecraft is designed to carry 3 people, it is likely that the first flight will carry one person only.[51]

Test flights

Development timeline of Gaganyaan
Flight Date Regime Crew Notes Outcome
Re-entry Test 18 December 2014 Sub-orbital N/A Sub-orbital test of scaled down boilerplate Gaganyaan capsule, launched aboard the sub-orbital first test flight of ISRO's GSLV Mark III rocket. Success
Pad Abort Test 5 July 2018 Atmospheric N/A 4-minute test of Gaganyaan's Launch abort system from launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Success
TV-D1[52] January 2023 Atmospheric N/A Test abort. Planned
TV-D2[52] Q2 2023 Atmospheric N/A Test abort. Planned
G1[53] mid-2023[49][54] LEO N/A First orbital test flight of Gaganyaan capsule. Planned
G2[53] Q4 2023[50][54] LEO N/A Second orbital test flight of Gaganyaan capsule. Planned
H1[53] 2024[50][54] LEO India TBA
India TBA
India TBA
First crewed flight of Gaganyaan, will carry 1-3 Indian astronauts on a short orbital test flight.[8][55] Planned

Test flight profile

About 16 minutes after liftoff from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota, the rocket will inject the spacecraft into an orbit 300–400 km (190–250 mi) above Earth. When ready to land, its service module and solar panels will be disposed off before reentry. The capsule would return for a parachute splashdown in the Bay of Bengal.[56]


Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment

Test of water landing of CARE on 18 December 2014
Test of water landing of CARE on 18 December 2014

Main article: Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment

On 13 February 2014, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited handed over the first boilerplate prototype of Crew Module structural assembly to ISRO for Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE).[10][57] ISRO's Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre would equip the Crew Module with systems necessary for life support, navigation, guidance and control systems.[58]

ISRO undertook an uncrewed test launch of the vehicle aboard the GSLV Mark III X1, for an experimental sub-orbital flight on 18 December 2014. The GSLV Mk3 launcher with a dummy upper cryogenic stage (filled with liquid nitrogen to simulate weight of fuel) was launched at 9:30 a.m. from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota.[59][60]

The crew module separated from the rocket at an altitude of 126 km. On board motors controlled and reduced the speed of the module until an altitude of 80 km (50 mi). Thrusters were shut off at that altitude and atmospheric drag further reduced speed of the capsule.

The module heat shield was expected to experience temperature in excess of 1,600 °C (2,910 °F). Parachutes were deployed at an altitude of 15 km (9.3 mi) to slow down the module which performed a splashdown in the Bay of Bengal near Andaman and Nicobar Islands.[61][62]

This flight was used to test orbital injection, separation and re-entry procedures and systems of the Crew Capsule. Also tested were the capsule separation, heat shields and aerobraking systems, deployment of parachute, retro-firing, splashdown, flotation systems and procedures to recover the Crew Capsule from the Bay of Bengal.[63][64] Inflight launch abort and parachute tests are expected to be conducted by the end of 2019.[65]

Pad Abort Test

Info-graphic on ISRO's first Pad Abort Test (PAT-01) displayed at 6th Bangalore Space Expo 2018, 6–8 September 2018.
Info-graphic on ISRO's first Pad Abort Test (PAT-01) displayed at 6th Bangalore Space Expo 2018, 6–8 September 2018.

Main article: ISRO Pad Abort Test

The Indian Space Research Organisation's Pad Abort Test was conducted successfully on 5 July 2018.[66] As of September 2021, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) is integrating a test vehicle to conduct an unmanned flight test of Crew Escape System (CES) before the official launch of Gaganyaan mission. The test vehicle will be ready by the end of 2021.[67]

Vikas engine qualification

Vikas engine undergoing long duration hot test at Principal Test Stand, ISRO Propulsion Complex on 14 July 2021.
Vikas engine undergoing long duration hot test at Principal Test Stand, ISRO Propulsion Complex on 14 July 2021.

Main article: Vikas (rocket engine)

Vikas engine variants are used to power the second stage of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), boosters and second stage of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark I and II and also the core stage of GSLV Mark III.

On 14 July 2021 ISRO conducted third long duration hot test of Vikas engine for core L110 liquid stage of GSLV Mark III at ISRO Propulsion Complex as part of engine qualification requirement of Gaganyaan mission. The engine was successfully test fired for a duration of 240 seconds validating all the required performance parameters.[68][69]

On 20 January 2022, High Thrust Vikas Engine successfully underwent a hot qualification test for duration of 25 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex to validate engine robustness under non-nominal operating conditions for fuel-oxidiser mixture ratio and chamber pressure.[70]

Service Module Propulsion System

ISRO on 28 August 2021 successfully tested System Demonstration Model (SDM) of Service Module Propulsion System (SMPS) that will be integrated into Gaganyaan spacecraft. During on ground testing at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), SDM was fired for a duration of 450 seconds which matched the pre-test prediction data using five main engines and eight RCS thrusters. Each 440 N thrust engine will also be tested individually for longer duration involving various parameters to gain human-rating certification.[71][72]

CE-20 engine qualification

Main article: CE-20

On 12 January 2022, ISRO conducted a hot qualification test on CE-20 cryogenic engine for a duration of 720 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC).[73][74] On 28 October 2022, C20 E11 successfully completed Pressure Chamber Test for 30 seconds at IPRC. It was done to check the efficacy of the engine for Gaganyaan mission. On 9 November 2022, the duration was increased to 70 seconds. The test results were on expected lines as per ISRO sources.[75]

Static fire test of HS200

Human rated variant of S200 solid strap-on or HS200 was developed for Gaganyaan programme. First static fire test of HS200 was conducted on 13 May 2022 at SDSC SHAR for the duration of 135 seconds with nominal performance.[76]

Integrated Main Parachute Airdrop Test

Integrated Main Parachute Airdrop Test for Parachute Deceleration System.

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) on 18 November 2022 conducted Integrated Main Parachute Airdrop Test (IMAT) for Parachute Deceleration System (PDS) in which 5-ton dummy mass equivalent of the actual crew module mass was taken to an altitude of 2.5 km and dropped from Ilyushin Il-76 by Indian Air Force. Two small pyro-based mortar-deployed pilot parachutes which then pulled the main parachutes. Size of the main parachute was initially restricted to a smaller area to reduce opening shock. After 7 seconds, the pyro-based reefing line cutters cut the area restricting line, allowing the parachutes to inflate fully. The fully inflated main parachutes reduced the payload speed to a safe landing speed. The entire sequence lasted about 2-3 minutes.[77][78]

The Parachute Deceleration System is jointly developed by ISRO and DRDO. System design, analytical simulations for parachute deployment, development of ordnance devices for parachute ejection, mechanical assembly, instrumentation and avionics were done by VSSC. Total five air dropped test for 10 parachutes are planned as part of qualification process.[79][80]


Main article: Vyommitra

On 22 January 2020, ISRO announced Vyommitra, a female-looking robot who will accompany the other astronauts in the mission. ISRO aims not to fly animals onboard experimental missions unlike other nations that have carried out human space flight. Instead, it will fly humanoid robots for a better understanding of what weightlessness and radiation do to the human body during long durations in space.[81]

Vyommitra is expected to be onboard uncrewed Gaganyaan missions to perform microgravity experiments, monitor module parameters, and support astronauts in crewed missions by simulating functions like a human from the waist up. It does not have legs.[82] It is programmed to speak Hindi and English and perform multiple tasks.[83][84][85][86]

It can detect and give out warnings if environmental changes within the cabin get uncomfortable to astronauts and change the air condition. It can autonomously complete tasks and follow new commands.[87]

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