July and August are going to be very busy for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with the launch of Chandrayaan-3, followed by a series of critical tests for the Gaganyaan mission, said its chairman S Somanath.

“Chandrayaan-3 will be launched in July. I am very confident (about the successful launch of the mission),” he told newspersons.

Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2 to demonstrate end-to-end capability in safe landing and roving on the lunar surface.

Gaganyaan Mission

Gaganyaan seeks to demonstrate India’s human spaceflight capability by launching a crew of three members into an orbit of 400 km for a 3-day mission and bringing them back safely to the earth.

On Gaganyaan, Somanath said that a series of tests, including propulsion system development test, sub-system development test are underway. Many of the ISRO centres are developing parachutes, ejection systems, seats and view ports, he added.

The major test will happen at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, Sriharikota. We are getting ready for the launch called ‘Test Vehicle Mission’, he added.

The launch vehicle is at the Centre now and final integration and testing have been completed.

“We have to get the crew module and the crew escape system elements and they are coming with a lot of hardware that has already reached SHAR,” the ISRO Chairman said after witnessing the successful launch of GSLV-F-12/NVS-02 Mission.

“Our target is to launch it in July or August. This launch is to demonstrate how we can save the crew if an accident or explosion happens while the rocket is in motion. The crew module will have all such features to take it out of the exploding rocket. We are going to launch at an altitude of 14 km. At that altitude, we will destroy or rather create a problem and eject the whole thing and see it is recovered. We will go to the sea and bring it back,” he said.

“The tests will be repeated and then we will go for an unmanned mission, possibly next year, when the whole crew module will be taken to the orbit and brought back safely. This will be an unmanned mission to demonstrate the end-to-end from design to systems,” he said.

There will also be many helicopter drop tests to demonstrate the crew module, the parachute system, the sequencing, the control and electronics. Details will be given later, he added.

Kulasekarapattinam launch pad

On the new launch pad that ISRO is building at Kulasekarapattinam in Thoothukudi district along the coast in Tamil Nadu, Somanath said that nearly 99 per cent of the 2,000 acres has been transferred to ISRO by the Tamil Nadu government.

“The Tamil Nadu government is handling it very effectively. We are very happy about it,” he said. The facility will be used for launching small satellites, he added.

“We are now securing the land, and taking necessary clearance to commence construction and the entire design of the launch complex is getting completed. It is getting ready for tendering and looking for parties to come and build. The work to ensure that early launches of some of the private companies can be done without full construction is also under consideration,” he said.

It takes at least two years to become fully functional after the commencement of the construction work. However, we will be able to conduct some sub-orbital launches there, he added.

Kulasekarapattinam will be used by private companies to launch small satellites into orbit.

Srinath Ravichandran, Co-founder and CEO of Agnikul Cosmos, in November told businessline that Kulasekarapattinam is a sweet spot for launching small satellites.

“There is no land between that place and Antarctica, it’s a beautiful belt for launches. The rule is that you cannot fly over a land mass if you are not in orbit. By the time you are flying over Antarctica, you are in orbit.”

A cargo truck and four caravans are all that are required to launch small satellites, and Kulasekarapattinam is an ideal spot, he said.

The Tamil Nadu government is planning to set up Space Industrial Park and Propellants Park near Thoothukudi to take advantage of the Centre’s move to build the Kulasekarapattinam spaceport. Tidco recently floated an RFP for preparing a feasibility report for the Parks.