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ISRO Conducts ‘Hot Test’ of Gaganyaan Mission’s Service Module Propulsion System


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) continues its progress towards the much-anticipated Gaganyaan mission, which aims to demonstrate India’s capability in human spaceflight. As a crucial step in the mission’s development, ISRO recently conducted a significant “hot test” of the Gaganyaan Service Module Propulsion System (SMPS) at the ISRO Propulsion Complex in Mahendragiri, Odisha. This article delves into the details of the recent test and its implications for the ambitious Gaganyaan mission.

The Gaganyaan Mission

The Gaganyaan mission is a pioneering endeavor by ISRO to send a crew of three members into a 400-kilometer orbit around Earth for a 3-day mission. This ambitious mission is designed to showcase India’s prowess in human spaceflight, marking a significant milestone in the country’s space exploration journey.

The Role of the Service Module Propulsion System (SMPS)

The Service Module of the Gaganyaan spacecraft plays a crucial role in the mission’s success, and the Propulsion System is an integral part of this module. The SMPS is responsible for several critical functions during the mission, including:

  • Orbit injection
  • Circularization
  • On-orbit control
  • De-boost maneuvering

Phase-1 Test Series

Before the recent Phase-2 hot test, ISRO had already conducted a series of Phase-1 tests to validate and demonstrate the capabilities of the service module’s propulsion system. The Phase-1 test series included the following components:

  • Five Liquid Apogee Motors (LAM) with 440 newtons of thrust
  • Eight Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters with a thrust of 100 newtons

In total, the Phase-1 tests lasted for an impressive duration of 2,750 seconds.

Phase-2 ‘Hot Test’

The recent test conducted on Wednesday, July 19, 2023, marked a crucial milestone as part of the Phase-2 test series. The Phase-2 ‘hot test’ involved a comprehensive evaluation of the propulsion system, and it featured the full configuration of the engines that will be utilized by the service module during the Gaganyaan mission. Here are the key aspects of the Phase-2 ‘hot test’:

  • Five Liquid Apogee Motors (LAM) were fired in a continuous mode, generating the main propulsive force required during the mission’s ascending phase.
  • Sixteen Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters were tested to ensure precise attitude correction of the spacecraft.
  • The test’s duration was 250 seconds, during which the propulsion system demonstrated its capabilities under real-world conditions.
  • Various components, including the propellant tank feed system, helium pressurization system, flight-qualified thruster, and control components, were thoroughly evaluated during the hot test.

Future Implications

The successful execution of the Phase-2 hot test represents a significant step forward for ISRO and the Gaganyaan mission. The data and insights gathered from these tests will be invaluable in fine-tuning the propulsion system and making any necessary improvements before the mission’s actual launch. As ISRO continues to push the boundaries of space exploration, the Gaganyaan mission holds the promise of inspiring a new generation of scientists and space enthusiasts in India and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What is the Gaganyaan mission?

The Gaganyaan mission is an ambitious human spaceflight program by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) aimed at launching a crew of three members into a 400-kilometer orbit around Earth for a 3-day mission.

Q2: What is the role of the Service Module Propulsion System (SMPS) in the Gaganyaan mission?

The Service Module Propulsion System (SMPS) plays a crucial role in the Gaganyaan mission by performing functions like orbit injection, circularization, on-orbit control, and de-boost maneuvering.

Q3: How was the recent Phase-2 ‘hot test’ conducted?

The recent Phase-2 ‘hot test’ involved firing five Liquid Apogee Motors (LAM) and sixteen Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters for 250 seconds, evaluating the propulsion system’s performance and various components under real-world conditions.

Q4: What were the outcomes of the Phase-1 test series?

The Phase-1 test series included tests of five LAM engines and eight RCS thrusters, lasting for a total duration of 2,750 seconds to validate the propulsion system’s capabilities.

Q5: What are the future implications of the recent test for the Gaganyaan mission?

The successful Phase-2 ‘hot test’ represents a significant step forward for ISRO and the Gaganyaan mission, providing valuable data for further improvements and ensuring the mission’s success.

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