MUMBAI: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is developing a new liquid-propellant rocket to test the crew abort system of India’s human space flight programme, the Gaganyaan mission, director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, S Somanath, stated.

A crew abort system is important in a manned space mission because it allows the capsule with the crew members to quickly separate from the rocket in case of an emergency. Prior to the actual manned mission, four crew abort tests have been planned with the new rocket, Somanath said during a media interaction at the International Astronautical Congress now being held in Washington DC.

He added that the three-man crew compartment has entered the design phase, and various collaborations are being considered. Manufacturing options for the pressurised crew module were being studied.

The first unmanned test flight is provisionally slated between December 2020 and January 2021. For the actual manned flight the rocket will be the Gslv Mark 3. The training of the first set of astronauts has already begun, Somanath said.

In an earlier presentation, he said the government of India is evaluating a long term plan of what is called a sustained moon exploration by India. While pointing out that there was a question of priorities, he said keeping in view the progress the country will be making, India would like to participate in the global exploration of the moon.

He also touched upon the role of the private sector in India’s space missions.