L110 Vikas liquid propulsion engine under construction at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre

India's most ambitious undertaking in space, Gaganyaan, has entered the testing phase and the Indian Space & Research Organisation (ISRO) is hopeful of launching the first unmanned mission this year. ISRO chairman K Sivan in his new year message said that teams are working on testing the Vikas engine, cryogenic stage, crew escape system for the mission.

"Tests are in progress for the human-rated L110 Vikas engine, Cryogenic stage, Crew escape system motors and service module propulsion system. The S200 motor has been realised for the ground test too. Main parachute drop test has also commenced," Sivan said, adding that astronauts have completed the generic spaceflight training in Russia and the Indian leg has commenced.

"There is a directive to launch the first unmanned mission before the 75th anniversary of India's independence and all the stakeholders are putting their best effort to meet the schedule. I am sure that we will be able to meet this target," Sivan said.

Apart from readying Gaganyaan, ISRO has several missions that will spread wings in 2022. ISRO chairman said that Earth Observation Satellite (EOS) 4 and 6 will be launched on PSLV along with the maiden flight of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).

Meanwhile, the hardware loop test for the Aditya-L1 mission, the Indian spacecraft to the Sun, is complete, accommodation studies for XpoSat in SSLV are done and the space agency has delivered the S-band SAR payload to NASA for the Nisar mission.

"In addition, we also have Chandrayaan-03, Aditya Ll, XpoSat, IRNSS and technology demonstration missions with advanced indigenously developed technologies on-board," the Sivan said. Talking about the decadal plan for the Indian space programme, Sivan said that it will foster all-around growth in operational missions, launch services, science missions, technology demonstration missions and new technology development initiatives.


While ISRO is working on the Gaganyaan and Aditya L1 missions, scientists have major plans in the pipeline that includes Disha, a twin aeronomy satellite mission, the Venus mission and ISROCNES, a joint science mission TRISHNA. Sivan said that the TRISHNA mission is meant for accurate mapping of land surface temperatures. "This mission will be the benchmark for providing temperature data at best resolution and repeatability even globally," he added.


Reflecting on all the work conducted by ISRO in 2021, Sivan said that there is a feeling that very little happened in ISRO during 2021. That feeling is primarily due to the fewer number of launches. He commended all the scientists and engineers on designing and developing missions despite the raging Covid-19 and successive lockdowns.

"Last year, we had two missions in which one was a dedicated commercial mission by NSIL. GSLV F-1O mission failed due to cryogenic stage anomaly. A national-level failure analysis committee was constituted for the same and the committee has identified the root cause and given its recommendations. Necessary design changes are being incorporated to improve the robustness of concerned systems," Sivan said in his message.

He maintained that design changes on Chandrayaan-3 have been incorporated and testing has seen huge progress. The mission could be launched by the middle of next year. Meanwhile, the Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) and Astrosat remain operational.