After an initial minor glitch, the Gaganyaan Test Vehicle (TV-D1) - a test platform to validate the Crew Escape System (CES) abort demonstration - was launched successfully from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota on Saturday.

The original plan was to launch at 8 am but it was delayed by 45 minutes due to bad weather conditions. When the launch was planned at 8.45, the Automatic Launch Sequence (ALS) observed an anomaly and put on hold the launch 5 seconds before the lift off.

However, when the lift off finally happened at 10 am, it was a text book launch up to the Crew Escape System (CES) splashing down on the Bay of Bengal about 10 km from Sriharikota.

The unmanned flight test for the Gaganyaan mission from the lift off to the splash down lasted 531.8 seconds. After the lift off from the first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, Sriharikota, the CES with Crew Module (CM) was separated from the test vehicle at an altitude of 16.7 km.

After the successful launch, ISRO Chairman S Somanath said from the mission control room, “I am very happy to announce the successful accomplishment of the TV-D1 mission. The purpose of the mission was to demonstrate CES for the Gaganyaan programme through a test vehicle demonstration in which the vehicle has gone up to Mach No, which is speed of sound, slightly above that, and initiated an abort system for the CES. It took the CES and CM away from the vehicle. The subsequent operation of the CM and CES and the parachute openings and touch down in the sea at the required velocity has been very well accomplished..”

On the reasons as to the launch was put on hold, Somanath said initially the launch was supposed to be at 8 am but due to weather-related issues, the launch was reschduled at 8.45 am. But, after going through the nominal lift-off process, there was a hold issued by the Ground computer, which is called the Automatic Launch Sequence computer that detected a non-conformance for the engine to allow the engine the thrusting to further go. This was due to a monitoring anamoly in the system, he said.

“We could identify the anamoly very fast and correct it. To make the stage ready, it took some time to refill the gases. Once that was completed, the ALS checked the entire health of the vehicle and finally, the mission computer and ground check out computer authorised the launch to take off,” he said.

“I am happy that our team could understand that in case of an anamoly how to rectify it and come back fast. This is a big training for the entire team to prepare for the Ganganyaan programme,” he said.

Somanath said the mission was unique with two inertial systems - one in the vehicle and the other in the CM and both were operated successfully. Two ALS were also running to make the two computational systems work synchronously.

Mission Director S Shivakumar said it was a bouquet of three experiments put together. The test vehicle; the CES and CM - we have perfectly demonsrtated in the first attempt. The initial glitch was not a problem. All the systems performed well.

R Hutton, Mission Executive for Crew Module Realisation and Mission Director of Gaganyaan said today’s launch was a major milestone in the Gaganyaan mission. In this programme, the most important is the safety of the crew, which has been desmonstrated in today’s mission where we simulated an abort and where the CES carries away to a safe place.

The Gaganyaan vehicle, though fully robust, but cannot take everything to chance. If any malfunction happens, there has to be a system in the launch vehicle take the crew module safely and land. This is what was demonstrated today in the first mission of the test vehicle.

P Sunil, CES, said it was a perfect lift off and CES functioned as it was planned. The CM has come down in precision, he said.

According to the director of Human Space Flight Centre M Mohan, this has been the first opportunity for the Gaganyaan Mission to commence its journey.